“There are some older kids who hang out around school. They bully the younger kids.”
“You saw them bullying someone?” Miriam asked.
Tommy nodded. “One of the DCA kids. He’s my friend. I tried to stop it, but…”
“Did they threaten you?” Alex asked, reading between the lines.
“Kind of,” Tommy said with a negligent shrug.
Gonzo laid a hand on the teen’s shoulder and gave a reassuring squeeze. “You’re safe here and we can keep your friend safe as well.”
Tommy did a little dip of his head. “They roughed up Wesley and threatened him.”
“What did they want?” Miriam asked.
“To know where the drugs were kept at the vet’s office and the DCA,” Tommy said.
Principal Mary Meier called Wesley out of class to chat with Miriam and him.
Wesley’s face paled as he saw them sitting in the room along with Tommy, who had come along to hopefully ease the discussion.
“It’s okay to tell them, Wes. They’ll keep you safe,” Tommy urged his friend.
“They’ll hurt me again,” Wesley said, voice trembling. He wrapped his arms around his midsection as if to ward off blows.
Miriam gestured to his belly. “Is that where they hit you?”
Wesley nodded. “So it didn’t look like they beat me up.”
“They won’t do it again. I’ll make sure of that,” Alex said, but Wesley shook his head.
“How can you do that?” Wesley said, eyes wide and fearful.
Alex pulled out his DEA badge and laid it on the table before the scared teen. He tapped the badge and said, “Because the DEA and Jasper PD can keep you safe.”
The boy breathed a sigh of relief, seemingly satisfied with that. “They’re dropouts who harass us when we leave school.”
Miriam glanced at the principal. “Are you aware of this?”
The principal bobbed her head to confirm it. “We have our school safety officer patrol the area to keep them away.”
“But they get us on the way home,” Wesley almost whined.
“We don’t have jurisdiction off campus,” the older woman explained.
“I’ll speak to the chief about beefing up our patrols,” Miriam said and continued. “Can you tell us their names?”
Wesley nodded. “Samuel Harris and Brandon Smith. They also have kids steal drugs from their family’s medicine cabinets. Oxy. Percocet. Stuff like that.”
Which would explain how the Boise drug ring got some of the drugs they’d found, Alex thought.
“Why did they harass you?” Alex asked.
“A judge gave me community service hours for some graffiti. I volunteer at the vet and DCA because I love animals,” Wesley said sheepishly.
Tommy playfully elbowed him the way friends do. “He painted Save the Whales on a billboard outside town. Dude, there aren’t any whales in Jasper.”
“I know that, dude,” Wesley shot back.
Dragging the conversation back to the important things, Alex said, “They bullied you to steal the drugs?”
Wesley vehemently shook his head. “I wouldn’t do that. They forced me to tell them where the drugs were kept. When no one would be around. That’s all I did and that’s all I know.”
He shared a glance with Miriam, and she said, “I think we have enough information. Thank you, Wesley.”
“Is that it? You don’t need anything else?” Wesley asked.
“I think it’s best you go back to class. I’m sure Principal Meier will have a reasonable explanation for why you were called to her office,” Miriam said.
Wesley nodded, but then peered at Tommy. “You’re not going back to Boise, are you?”
Tommy shook his head. “No. I’ll be back tomorrow.”
A broad smile erupted on Wesley’s face and he fist-bumped the other teen.
“Thank you, Principal Meier. I’ll speak to the chief about those extra patrols,” Miriam said as she rose from the table.
“We would appreciate that,” the other woman said, and they left her office.
Outside, Gonzo and Tommy peeled off to get Tommy settled with his foster family again while Miriam, Lily and Alex drove back to the police station to investigate the teens who had bullied Wesley.
Miriam had sent the names of the two suspects to Dillon, who had obtained their rap sheets from the Idaho Police Bureau of Criminal Identification. He’d also pulled up the rap sheet for Harris’s brother, who currently resided in Boise. As the three of them sat to review the records, it was clear that the Harris brothers and Smith had a long history of criminal activity. Various juvenile arrests for shoplifting, burglary and misdemeanor drug use.
The older Harris was currently serving a short sentence in county jail for blowing over the limit on his blood alcohol level during a DUI stop.
“Are you familiar with the older Harris?” Miriam asked.
Alex peered at the photo of the young man and shook his head. “No, but he’s probably the connection with Jasper. I suspect we’ll find this drug ring has a web of connections like this in various towns. My partner is investigating in McCall right now.”
Dillon looked at the rap sheets and shook his head. “I’ve seen these two around town, but never suspected they were involved in anything like this.”
“Who would? Jasper isn’t the kind of town where things like this happen,” Miriam said and winced as Alex’s face tightened into harsh lines. It was a too painful reminder of his father’s actions.
Trying to get the discussion back on track, she said, “We have their fingerprints from the criminal records. Let’s see if we get a match to those at the DCA.”
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