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For All Nails #183:  Wheeler Wars

Inspired by Dave Barrington and dedicated to Henrik Kiertzner

9 July 1976

>From the Statist

"Wheeling and Rotting"

>From start to finish, it was no ordinary murder trial. Southern
Vandalia's state government set up an elite squad of top prosecutors.
It even paid jurors three times the going rate. Maybe that was why it
took 11 days of sequestered deliberations and a judicial admonition to
try harder. Still, in the end, on May 5th, the jury convicted Mauricio
"El Madrazo" Parado, a leader of the Southern Vandalia chapter of the
appropriately named Vandal wheeler club, of ordering the killing of
two prison guards.

Southern Vandalians saw this as a big victory in the state's battle
against organised crime, and hoped others will follow. Over the next
two years dozens of Mr Parado's underlings will face murder and drugs
charges. The state has even built a special courthouse in St. Louis,
costing 1.1m and linked by an underground tunnel to the prison where
the defendants are held.
 
Behind these trials lies one of North America's bloodiest and longest
crime wars. More than 160 people have died since January 1 of this
year, and at least as many have been injured, as the Vandals have
brutally sought a monopoly over Southern Vandalia's trade in marihuana
and cocaine. They have been resisted, just as brutally, by the
"Maquina", a loose federation of wheeler clubs with suspected links to
the Orange Order.

The "Wheeler War" has sparked public fascination, but also outrage. It
has prompted the state government to pass increasingly tough anti-drug
and anti-club laws, the most recent legislation coming after a crime
reporter was shot to death. On several occasions the conflict has been
declared over, either by police or by the warring parties themselves.
But each time the killings resumed: the bitterness is deep, and
profits of tens of millions of pounds a year are at stake.

In fact, the war may be spreading. In June, a member of the Hun club
was killed in a bust-up with Vandals outside Baton Rouge, Georgia,
while last week four members of the Vandal and Goth clubs died in a
shoot-out at a wheeler gathering in Birmingham.

In Southern Vandalia, unaccustomed to violence, police have often
seemed powerless against the wheelers. Special task-forces drawn from
Confederation and local forces have disintegrated in bickering. About
95 percent of murders in Southern Vandalia are normally cleared up.
But in the wheeler war, the figure "isn't even 10 percent", says
Commander Andrew Stoppard, the top homicide officer in the Southern
Vandalia Royal Militia. "Either we catch them on the scene, or you can
forget about it".

Indeed, the case against Mr Parado was cracked by the Mexican
Constabulary, not the CBI or the Vandalian militia.  Mexican federal
agents in Monticello [1] apparently turned Charles Silvestre, a known
Platonist.  Constabulary sources say that Mr Silvestre became an
informer after being told by the Jefferson branch of the Vandals that
he could never become a full member because of his sexual preferences.
 Mr Silvestre's evidence gave Mexican agents the location of the
club's main counting house in Lincoln [2], which was processing almost
100 million a year.  The Mexican attorney general, Arthur Luria,
turned this information over to the Southern Vandalian militia, which
raided the house and made more than 120 arrests, including Mr Parado.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the war is over.   Ultimately, as
long as the CNA pursues a policy of prohibition while sharing a border
with a country where marihuana is legal and cocaine widely tolerated,
the lucrative (and violent) underground trade will continue.  More
worrisome is the corrosive effect of the wheeler war and drugs trade
on North American institutions.  When Mexico's master milly was asked
why he turned his information over to Southern Vandalian officials
rather than the Confederation Bureau of Investigation, Mr Luria hinted
at CBI incompetence, or worse yet, corruption.  "Most of our eastern
compatriotas are dedicated and hard-working, but that place is as
leaky as a sieve.  Something is rotten in the state of Denmark".  Or
at least in the state of North American law enforcement.

[1]  Little Rock, Arkansas.

[2]  North Little Rock, Arkansas.