Chapter 8 – Rifles for Halftrack

“This was our plan B said Virgil. The colonel said maybe we could work together to move money but I had no idea he meant that much.”

“Well, if you can’t launder the money directly, you’ll have to convert it to something you can ship out of the country. I knew a guy from South Africa who got his money out of the country buying expensive British Motorcycles and shipping them to the States where he sold them. Other people are into drugs but that’s pretty much sown up by the Thieu people. They’ve lately taken to shipping Heroin to the states, bypassing Cholon.”

“That game is over anyhow for small-time operators like us. That’s how I got my nut to start currency arbitrage, only I ran the game backwards to get cash into the country,” said DB. “Now I want to run it forwards.”

“It won’t be expensive motorcycles. There aren’t any; and little tiddlers and Hondas like mine are a drug on the market so-to-speak, cough cough,” added Virgil.

“There’s a lot of high-value military hardware floating around. Any interest in that?” asked Halftrack.

“You mean like helicopter parts? How much is a rotor-transmission for a Huey worth?” asked DB.

“No, no way too specific,” countered Virgil. “Who would you sell them to? You’d have to be a helicopter mechanic to know what to do with it. We need something simpler.”

“Like chocolate covered cotton balls? But then where would you get the chocolate?” I added in jest.

“Or the cotton,” laughed Virgil snorting into the neck of his beer bottle with foam running down the neck. “You checked that out of the post library too, I see. Seem like you read a lot.”

“Passes the time. How ‘bout empty beer cans?”

“Too much labor to crush them.”

“Um. What else is there a surplus of in country that you can actually ship out?” mused Virgil.

“Kalashnikovs?”ventured DB.

“Talk about a drug on the market,”answered Virgil

“Actually, there’s early M-16s floating around. They’re designated AR-15 but it’s the same thing,” said Halftrack. “The word on the street is that the VC are trading off the ones they captured from the villagers or were given, depending on whose story you believe.”

“Trading them in for what?”

“Kalashnikovs,” said Halftrack.

“AK-47s? Cheap Chinese junk,” said Virgil.

“Most of them are Russian.”

“OK, Russian junk then.”

“They may be junk but the VC like them better than the AR-15s. They don’t jam with cheap powder when you don’t clean them every day. Besides they get ‘em free, from the Chinese. The Russians make em by the tens of thousands. How they get to China I don’t know. Maybe Vang Pao pays for them with dope but then that would be very un-communist.”

“So who gets the trade-ins?”

“Can’t say exactly but they end up in the hands of rich feather merchants who want to get rid of them as fast as possible. Therein lies the opportunity,” said Halftrack, making an X in the condensation on his beer.

“Where’s the market for them? You can’t sell them back to the army,”asked DB.

“They never came from the army in the first place.”

“Then how did the villagers get them?”

The CIA got a whole raft of ‘em as part of the first Air Force contract. How they paid for them I don’t know. If that’s your next question. I doubt if even Shackley knows but the Air Force had them on their books.”

“No, my next question actually was why somebody gave them to the villagers now that I know who.”

“Who what?”

“Who gave them to the villagers.”

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