The Imperial Hunter Chapter 35 - El Municionero (3)

Author: Dawn

The host ushered the guest into the living room and asked me while offering me to sit.

“Would you like something to drink?”

“Something to drink, yes. Just a glass of water, please.”

“Is that okay?”


Upon hearing my reply, Ricardo raised his eyebrows and shoulders, then quickly fetched two glasses of water. I took my first step into what seemed like a carefully chosen negotiation ground, waiting for him to sit on the opposite side.

“Ricardo, I heard that you used to work in the infrastructure division of the ‘Cartel del Noreste’ in the past. Your brother is still with the Northeast Cartel, isn’t he?”

“Roughly correct.”


“My role was more accurately in installing and operating supply points. It was more akin to a quartermaster than a simple facilities manager. And my brother is part of the ‘Tropa del Infierno’, a top-notch strike force under the Northeast Cartel. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them.”

“I’ve heard of them.”

Knowledge was power, and thorough research on your negotiating partner was a prerequisite for successful negotiations. Leaning against the backrest, I crossed my legs and continued.

“Knowing your brother’s affiliation brings something to mind. At the beginning of this year, Comandante (Commander) Cisneros, also known as Hugo Alejandro Salcido Cisneros, was assassinated along with his aides. I believe it happened in Nuevo Laredo, right?”

“You seem to know more than I expected.”

Ricardo didn’t hide his surprise.

Comandante Cisneros, whose full name was Hugo Alejandro Salcido Cisneros, was in command of the Tropa del Infierno. And Nuevo Laredo, situated along the U.S.-Mexico border, was one of the major drug trafficking routes for the Cartel del Noreste.

Cisneros’s death was proof that Mexican President Obrador’s determination to eradicate cartels from the country was not yet broken. Although the president had declared that he would abandon the war against crime, it was more like an announcement that they would stop an all-out war. Looking at the constant arrests and deaths of cartel members, it was clear that those who had been complacent with the government’s surrender declaration were being naive.

Somehow, I had a feeling.

“Living so peacefully—” 

I said, casting a glance out the window.

“And then suddenly feeling the need to trade with me… Could that be related to that incident? Generational changes are always accompanied by noise.

Ricardo paused, stroked his beard for a moment, and seemed hesitant before he admitted.

“Once again, you’re right.”

“Shall we hear the details?”

Instead of answering, Ricardo stared at me in silence. The absence of his usual smile made the silence somewhat nervously static. The source of this tension was probably his own uneasiness, not me. It was a problem that he was so obviously inexperienced in negotiations. It could make it easy to underestimate the other party. I had to control myself to avoid doing just that. I chose to guide the conversation in a way that wouldn’t lead to ignoring him.

“Seems like you’re pondering where to start, but it’s too late.”


“Late as in you’ve already made a mistake.”


“Yes, a mistake. You haven’t denied that what you’re expecting from me is related to the organization’s generational shift, and you’ve admitted that you have no regrets about your life up to this point.”

When it came to cartels, bloodshed was often inevitable during a generational change, especially if it was caused by a sudden power vacuum due to a leader’s death.

“If your brother is a party or an insider involved in the leadership change, then the time you have is not long. These factional conflicts are crucial, depending on which side gains the upper hand first. It can be a one-time victory or a matter of life and death.”

Ricardo’s eyes now carried the chill of someone who had taken lives before.

“Right. I made a slip of the tongue from the very beginning.”

His armed wife raised an eyebrow as her husband’s demeanor changed. This was another clue about their lifestyle. It seemed like they were leading a truly rare retirement life for former cartel high-ranking members. I nodded lightly and changed the topic.

“It’s a slightly different story, but earlier this year, I made a significant trade deal with the mainland Triads.”

“What are you talking about all of a sudden?”

“Listen. Those Chinese were making a mistake just like you.”


“At that time, our company could get a significant concession just by stalling. As someone who used to be the ‘quartermaster’ of the cartel, you probably have a good idea of the usual profit margins for weapons and ammunition. Would you like to try matching how much profit, or margin, per assault rifle, shipped from somewhere in Northeast Asia into the ‘Golden Triangle,’ was eventually made?”

Ricardo’s eyes softened slightly as he thought. He was likely contemplating how much margin I left in Myanmar, as well as what my intentions were with such a question.

“Let’s say around 2,000 percent?”

I shook my head.

“4,130 percent. I received the price of a Mercedes-Benz for each full-option assault rifle.”

“That is insane.”

The expletive that immediately came out was repeated with an incredulous tone.

“That is insane! Huang, were you a scammer?” (+) [1]

It was only natural to show this much seriousness when he had practical experience. For someone like Ricardo, who had dealt with real-world logistics, it was natural to react this way. Handing over a full-option assault rifle for a price equivalent to a Mercedes-Benz, which cost around 54.4 million Korean won this year, was quite literally a scam-like transaction.

Although I planned to receive the compensation through barter, the Chinese had subtly maneuvered to minimize losses by paying with items that had no market price. Their strategy was to reduce losses by declaring that the equipment had no official market value due to its scarcity.

‘Well, even if you look at it that way, selling drugs can quickly make up for the loss.’

That’s right. Just as the CIA once funded itself by selling drugs, the funds of these Chinese gangsters who operate in the underworld ultimately came from the drug trade. That money circulated and eventually reached me.

China had been supporting not only the United Wa State Army (UWSA) with weapons but also drug manufacturing facilities. The influence of the UWSA spanned the infamous Southeast Asian “Golden Triangle,” producing and distributing drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl, earning an estimated annual income of 40 billion dollars, roughly 50 trillion Korean won. Given their conservative nature, the actual scale was likely much larger. This was because almost all the fentanyl that went from China to America came from here.

As with all businesses supported by the Chinese, the majority of the profits naturally went to the Chinese investors. It was not surprising that even the leader of the UWSA used a Chinese-style name.

The official stance of the Chinese Communist Party regarding drugs was that they were the enemy of the nation and the people, but that was just for show. Those at the top of the party and the entrepreneurs connected to them had turned the land of the Wa people into one of the world’s largest drug production areas. Local authorities only cracked down as much as was necessary for performance, face-saving, and diplomatic reasons.

So, along the China-Myanmar border, advanced countries, especially the United States, had set up surveillance networks to counter China’s expanding influence and drug trafficking. This was also another reason why these Chinese gangsters had to find subcontractors in third countries belonging to the Western sphere.

“Don’t be too surprised.”

I shrugged.

“Those guys are doing a business that’s making so much money that even if they bought all the goods I handed over at full price, they’d still have a lot.”

“What kind of business is that?”

“Drug trafficking. What other business can guarantee that level of profitability?”

Myanmar’s ordinary Wa tribe village in the north produced a number of drugs that rivaled a small cartel’s distribution. Moreover, that region was highly centralized, eliminating the decentralized inefficiencies found in Central and South America. In May, for instance, from just one unlucky external distribution warehouse, a total of 18 tons of methamphetamine, worth $10 billion, poured out.

No matter how much Mexican cartels brag about their power, they couldn’t beat the Chinese Communist Party. In every aspect of the black economy, those fake communists maintained their position as the world’s number one with an overwhelming lead.

I snapped my fingers to refocus his attention.

“Now, Ricardo, what do you think is the reason I’ve been telling you all of this?”

“Perhaps you won’t try to stall for time and profit when dealing with me?”

“That’s correct.”


“Because the chief is my friend, and you are someone he introduced to me.”

It was an unexpected answer, and Ricardo’s expression flickered with surprise.

The “Los Zetas” cartel was originally composed of former special forces members, and the organizational culture was very military-like. The young negotiator in front of me had repeatedly referred to himself as a “quartermaster,” most likely due to the influence of the organization’s culture or his past military service.

‘It seems that this kind of code works well with guys who have camaraderie.’

Words were tools used to gauge one another. Regardless of whether their camaraderie was genuine or not, what mattered was that the parties involved believed it was real. 

I adopted a languid tone, exuding an air of relaxation.

“That’s why you should pass on the message to your underground friends. Here, there won’t be any fights or a need to escape through tunnels.”

Shock filled the eyes staring back at me.

“How on earth did you…”

“Let’s just call this my caution. ‘Caution on the part of the trading partner is a good thing,’ isn’t that right?”

The self-proclaimed quartermaster hesitated for a moment before a disheartened laugh escaped him. He couldn’t possibly imagine that I had eyes that could see underground. The three armed men below seemed confused. They had been eavesdropping on our conversation in the negotiation room through the bug concealed in the landlord’s vest. A dog wagged its tail vigorously toward them.

“Why don’t you also ask your friends to come up? If your friends from Mexico came all the way here with you, they can’t just be casual acquaintances. They seem like people who would move together with you when you move.”

I finished my sentence and took a sip of water to moisten my dry throat. Ricardo turned to his wife with an awkward expression.

“Araceli, tell everyone to come up.”

The source of the awkwardness was undoubtedly the bug. The fact that a conversation that should have been kept secret was being eavesdropped on was now openly acknowledged. They were putting on an unfamiliar act.


With this alone, I had overcome one of the difficult hurdles in the negotiation. Ricardo was now confined within the framework I had set. The regret was not mine but Ricardo’s.

To tell the truth, the limited time given to Ricardo was a disadvantage for me as well. I had to conclude the contract somehow. If the negotiations fell apart here, the London operation would be delayed accordingly, and I would have to bear the additional risks associated with the delay. But how would this quartermaster discern my dissatisfaction? The essence of every negotiation was to hide one’s weaknesses while probing the weaknesses of the other party.

Now Ricardo had realized that he was just a novice negotiator. Simultaneously, due to the honesty I had shown, he might unconsciously perceive it as being difficult to find a better trading partner like me. Furthermore, by mentioning the trade with China, I had subconsciously conveyed the impression of my stature through its scale.

The outcome of all these causes would undoubtedly be a negotiation that proceeded swiftly and progressively. It was good for me, and it was good for the quartermaster too. All I had to do was make sure that the conversation didn’t veer off in an unexpected direction. As long as I didn’t give room for deeper thought, it would be enough.

  • 1. TLN: Reminder that the MC called himself “Hwang,” but in Ricardo’s case, his pronunciation of MC’s name is a little bit wrong. Also, a fun fact, Huang can also mean yellow.
Author's Thoughts

This novel is a work of fiction! While it may incorporate elements inspired by our "real" historical world, including historical events, settings, and cultures, it is important to note that the story and characters are entirely products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, living or deceased, or actual events is purely coincidental. This work should be enjoyed and interpreted as a work of fiction and not as a representation of historical facts or reality.
Also, if you find some error in translation please do let me know by tagging me (@_dawn24) in our Discord server. Since this series is kinda hard to translate. But I'll try my best to make it at least readable :)
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