Matosinhos Court, Judicial District of Oporto, ten o'clock in the morning, office of the criminal instruction-judge. Outside the door, a sign was posted: "Please, do not disturb". Judge Cathy Littleriver was now the commander-in-chief of the most dangerous special forces operation ever conducted in Latin American soil.
She called magistrate Tony Meadow in Buenos Aires:
-What is the status of the operation?...
-Departure on schedule... ten minutes ago... heading north...
-Get me in touch with the pilot through the private line of the embassy...
Toni had thousands of hours of experience working with phones, listening surreptitiously to private conversations among the half million arguidos in the small city of Matosinhos. But he had never worked a phone with the pilot of an helicopter in a secret mission.
-Ass calling Lopez...Ass calling Lopez... Ass calling Lopez...
ASS was Tony's code name, the Portuguese initials for High Security of Society, a department he headed a few years earlier at the Public Ministry in Gay-New-Village, a city near Oporto, across the Golden river.
-Mr Lopez ... I am going to put you in touch with my colleague Liz... from now on you should follow her instructions strictly... and use only this line for communications...
Within twenty seconds Liz was talking to the pilot:
-Mr. Lopez... please state your position...
-27º N, 42ºW... twenty miles west of Luján... altitude 4335 feet ... speed 147 miles per hour ...weather clear...heavy traffic above...Roger.
-Descend to flight level 42... fly a vector to Córdoba... from there take flight level 51 directly to Tukuman...as you enter Paraguaian air space report at Zulu...You should be there in six hours twelve minutes...Roger.
-Gracias señorita Liz... Roger.
Six tense hours were waiting for Cathy and Toni, as Cathy prayed to Nuestra Señora de Assumpción and Toni paid honors to the Grand Architect of the Universe.
One hour and a half later, Liz called:
-Ass ...put me in touch with the pilot again...
-Ass is calling Lopez ...Ass is calling Lopez...Ass is calling Lopez...
Liz entered the line:
-Mr. Lopez ... please report on Branca's status:
-Seating in rear ... between President and Magellan... looking at TV equipment...smiling... Roger.