Chapter 38: < Protect – Episode 37 – Aragon Company  >
After Ahn Soo Ho finished negotiating with the stupid or our so-called world leaders, he went straight to Rio de Janeiro. If the administrative capital of Brazil was Brasilia and the economic capital was Sao Paulo, the crime capital was Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil was a weird country.
The status order and connections made by the gap between the rich and the poor was very clear and explicit. It was as if there was another country within the country on the same land and under the same sky. If the Nazis’ built isolation camps to lock people up, the Brazilian hobos acted as if they didn’t want any foreign interference in their land.
If the purpose of politics was to unite the people for the country’s development, the Brazilian politicians were neglecting their duties. That was because Brazilian politicians had completely given up on the poor. Their policy was that the unfortunate would always be unfortunate and the ones who were well off should just live their great lives.
It sounds ridiculous, but it was normal for Brazil. Why? Because they were Brazil. It wasn’t easy to define a country and a country’s population. But 80% of Brazilian citizens focused on the present rather than the future, and that number was very meaningful. Calling Brazil the country of passion wasn’t always a good thing.
They called criminals who didn’t realize that they were criminals as psychopaths. According to that standard, half of Brazil were mental patients. In a place where committing a crime was normal, it was weirder to not commit any crimes. Calling the slums “hell on earth” was an understatement.
Ahn Soo Ho went to find Pabella in Rio de Janeiro. One might think the grass field and the hobos have nothing to do with each other, but the ones maintaining this place were criminal organizations. Most people thought of drugs and guns when they think about gangs, but they also had to keep up with the changing times in order to survive.
Pro sports was a great business model.
“Are you still managing the sports gambling ring, Gospel?”
“Business has taken a hit because of what happened in Sao Paolo.”
He started pickpocketing at the young age of seven years old and became the head of the top criminal organization after 40 years. The Brazilian criminal organization that first came to mind was probably PCC, but Vermelho CV near Rio de Janeiro was no joke either.
“But it’s better than Sao Paulo.”
“Better? You’re kidding, right, Soo Ho?”
90% of Brazil’s industrial foundation was situated in the southeast. They picked Brasilia as the capital with the excuse of developing the country’s balance, but the center of this country were the cities, Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro.
“Do you know how many tourists we lost after the Yankees caused that commotion? If they wanted to do that, they should have done it quietly. The rumors have spread everywhere. This is why I hate amateurs.”
“Carlos said a criminal group gave them help.”
“Carlos Costa? Do you still talk to that bastard?”
“He told me to say hi.”
Gospel frowned. Brazilian organizations hated the bystander organizations of Paraguay and Uruguay as much as they hated Argentina.
“Hm. It’s true that the Marchinianu side helped them out. But I drew a clear line. Negotiating with a bunch of no-good mercenaries never ends well.”
“Did Marchinianu provide the smuggling route?”
“Hm. No comment.”
Brazil was one of the top 3 places powerful people ran off to if they were wanted by the police or if they lost a power battle. Brazil, where the safety and living standards were two extremes, was able to get a good taste of capitalism.
The ironic part was that freelancing guards and security businesses in Brazil sign property contracts with their enemy gangs. They agreed to install demilitarization zones to avoid getting into gunfights in certain areas.
Not even contracts matter when they weren’t satisfied, but they at least pretended to follow it. As the criminal market became more globalized, they had no choice but to bring in more outsiders, and not long ago, it was said that an area of Rio was handed over to a yakuza. There were many Japanese-Brazilians. They had a good hold of the property development business. Since they invested quite a bit in Thailand and Brazil when the Japanese economy was booming, their relationship was still harmonious.
“I want them.”
“You know that’s not…”
“A million per head. I don’t care if they’re alive or dead.”
Gospel’s attitude completely changed as soon as the amount of money was mentioned.
“In what form?”
Gospel reached out his hand asking for a handshake, and Ahn Soo Ho shooked it without any hesitation. Logan, who took a few steps back in response to Ahn Soo Ho’s nod, sent a message on his walkie-talkie. Soon after, a transport vehicle backed up and stopped. When the back of the vehicle opened, a pile of cash wrapped in plastic was seen.
“That’s my deposit.”
“You sure know how to deal with people, Soo Ho.”
Gospel took the car with the money in it and took off before his subordinates could see.
“Give me six days.”
“That’s too tight…”
“I’ll make the proposal to PCC too.”
“Tsk! Okay, fine!”
He grumbled, but he didn’t say he couldn’t do it. As Gospel went off while riding his Sedan, Logan approached Ahn Soo Ho.
“Sao Paulo accepted the proposal as well.”
“Since it’s a war, it won’t take long.”
It was bothersome to try to find safe houses of Aragon, one by one, and there wasn’t enough time either. Since he created a bidding war between the criminal organizations, the rumors would spread through Brazil in no time.
Ahn Soo Ho saw dirty little kids in the alleyways. Both the boys and girls looked grungy. There were kids of all age groups including kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school.
“Am I wrong?”
It was difficult to judge a person’s age by their appearance in a different country. Just because it was the slums it didn’t mean that there were no shops. There were shops selling food that looked like hot dogs as well as ice cream shops, clothing shops, and a supermarket.
There were hobos who were looking to rip off outsiders, so Gospel left him with a few of his subordinates. So Ahn Soo Ho, who was guarded by Commando Bermello wasn’t harassed by anyone.
Ahn Soo Ho called over the kids who were glancing at him. They would have normally begged him for food already, but they just glanced over because of all the guards, which he found to be cute.
“They probably go around using guns and selling their bodies.”
Wanting to escape poverty while living a normal life wasn’t an easy thing to do.
“Sir, you can’t… Oh! Thank you.”
The hungry hobos all gathered around in response to Ahn Soo Ho’s gesturing.
The store owner was shocked at first, but once she saw the bills in his hand, she changed her attitude. He couldn’t handle all the kids by himself, so he asked the CV members to help out by borrowing the entire restaurant.
After spending hundreds and thousands of won to rent out the store, the street turned into a festival. Brazil was indeed the country of passion after all. Ahn Soo Ho joined them soon after and made a toast. He put a skewer in the hand of Logan, who was looking around with a stiff face.
“Relax, Logan. No one’s paying attention to us.”
“That’s how Deep Breath got into trouble.”
Being stiff could look professional, but too much tension could get in the way of moving quickly when they have to, so it was good to have balance. He noticed the discomfort behind Logan’s straight face.
“If you’re curious about something, just ask.”
“I don’t know what this useless act is about.”
He just spent hundreds of thousands of Brazilian real. If converted to Korean won, that was hundreds of millions of won. What was the point of spending that much on dirty little kids? Logan didn’t understand. After eating every last piece of his skewer, he shook the stick as if it was his finger.
“Do you know how many kids are used as soldiers every year?”
Logan silently shook his head to the sudden question.
“Around a million in the world. But what’s funny is the standard of child soldiers. Logan, what do you think a child soldier is?”
“An under-aged soldier?”
“Theoretically, yes. They train underdeveloped kids to become soldiers. I think kids who enter gangs are the same as child soldiers, do you think so too??”
“Right? You think so too, right? But the UN report excluded countries with governments that run on tax money. What that means is that as long as you’re not like Somalia, under-aged gang members aren’t child soldiers. According to the great UN Secretariat, the only child soldiers are the ones in the areas with wars going on.”
Ahn Soo Ho threw the skewer stick into a tree.
“Logan. If we both grew up with normal households, went to proper schools, and entered the world of mercenaries after the military, we became mercenaries voluntarily. We started to use guns on our own will, didn’t we?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“But some are forced into it without having to experience freedom.”
Ahn Soo Ho had seen many child soldiers. According to a UN study, there were over a million child soldiers entering the force every year, and not even half of them survive until the next year. And in the span of 10 years, the survival rate was less than 1%.
Most of them died before they became an adult.
“Have you ever thought about why Aragon is focusing on South America?”
“Don’t apologize. We already know the answer.”
Logan thought about it, and then let out an exclamation.
“Oh! Child soldiers? Did they raise soldiers?”
“Don’t go around telling anyone though.”
As mentioned earlier, the survival rate of child soldiers was drastically low. But the ones who did survive became skilled professionals and killing machines.
“Do you really have no idea? To be honest, I’m a very expensive man. You’re pretty expensive too.”
From a capitalist standpoint, Ahn Soo Ho was far from being cost-effective. But the reason why they still looked for him was because he guaranteed success regardless of the difficulty level of the mission.
He was the symbol of absolute success.
“Okay, then I have one last question for you. If PMC is managed like a gang, are they a gang or are they PMC?”
Logan raised his eyes to the thought, but he was so surprised, he dropped his jaw. Ahn Soo Ho smiled brightly.
“The bad guys know how to use their brains.”
Aragon played around on the boundaries between legal and illegal.
If their influence was alive and well, the secret would have been kept hidden. The reason why the White House couldn’t do anything even after their illegal acts had been exposed was because they did all the dirty work even the CIA didn’t want to do. If they decide to die together by revealing their secret, that could shake up the States.
As soon as the phone rang, Ahn Soo Ho checked the caller and then tilted his head. It was Alejandro Gospel.
“I already found one… but he hid in an iffy place. It’ll be hard to move him.”
Ahn Soo Ho laughed at what Gospel said next.
“Rio Federal Police Station.”
The federal police station? Ahn Soo Ho saw it coming. The wackos of Brazil sure didn’t disappoint. This was why the stupid or rather the world leaders’ support was needed. A person couldn’t just go around destroying police stations of other countries.
Ahn Soo Ho ended the call and gave Logan an instruction.
“Arm our guys.”
< Protect – Episode 37 – Aragon Company  > The end.