Mark Twain once wrote, “The two most important days in your life are
the day you were born, and the day you find out why.” I fully realized
my purpose the day I became an Arizona bounty hunter. It was as if my
experiences on both sides of the law suddenly made sense.
I have always lived on the edge of violence. Whether it was gangbanging
in the slums of New York City's Spanish Harlem, to fighting in the
Vietnam War, or chasing fugitives as an Arizona bounty hunter, I knew
that at any given time, I stood to lose life and limb. It was a gamble I
embraced, sometimes out of survival, sometimes out of patriotism and
sometimes for the sheer adrenalin rush.
They say life is just a series of choices. Well I've made some good
choices, and some not so good choices; some I'm still paying for and a
few I've come to appreciate. Take for instance my gang days in New York
The gang life taught me two things; camaraderie and the ability to
fight. Not just to fight, but to throw caution to the wind and not show
fear in the face of danger. The US Army taught me more than just those
qualities. They also taught me how to kill in various ways - techniques
that were born of battle. I was taught to lose my inhibitions and fears.
They motivated me to carry out mission orders no matter the cost -
mission first and utmost! But the most important lesson I learned was to
always look after your buddy, or the person next to you. In a
‘fire-fight,’ he could be the one that may save your life, or you
Survival was always important too. Staying alive and getting back to my
family after a hunt was the tie that binds. I earned my past, and it’s
one thing that can never be taken from me. Mind you, I was neither saint
nor a fool, but there comes a time in everyone's life when you have to
take life as it was given to you and run with it.
So this was me, running with it.
Victor Manuel Alvarez San Antonio, Texas September, 2016
Continuing the Adventures of “The Huntsman, An Arizona Bounty Hunter.
“No Time to Kill,” is the second book chronicling the adventures and
life of Victor Alvarez, which began with “The Huntsman – Actual
Stories of an Arizona Bounty Hunter.”
We pick up where we left off, as the Huntsman is giving chase to a
Mexican drug enforcer through the dark empty highway of Black Canyon
City, Arizona. And the hunt begins . . .
May 1987, Black Canyon City, Arizona
I was chasing a silver ’72 Chevy Monte Carlo south on the Arizona
Veterans Highway or I-17 as it was commonly known, and behind the wheel
of my newly modified ’82 Chrysler LeBaron, as I sped through the
darkness and my jumper’s taillights grew closer and closer. Kenny
Loggins’ Highway to the Danger Zone played from the car’s radio as I
kept my eyes on the road and my hands on the wheel.
I was tired, hungry and needed to catch this jumper. It was oven hot,
and although it was after 3:00 a.m., heat still wafted from the roadway
in front my headlights, thanks to the hot spell that still gripped
I leaned slightly forward and adjusted the louvers on the car's air
conditioner, so that I could get the cool air on my face. That position
helped a lot and it brought a small smile to my lips.
The Bradshaw Mountains rose up to the right of the roadway in an area
made famous when gold and silver was discovered there in the early
1800s. Those same mountains were later home to Apache Indians as they
fought to protect their land and keep white settlers out. A few of the
old settler homes and towns still stood and provided the backdrop for
the car chase that roared along the mountainous periphery.
My newly suped-up 305cc engine and manual four-speed transmission easily
pushed me closer to the fleeing Chevy. I didn’t want to lose the
jumper, but I didn’t want to spook him either. I’d been in this
situation before, and I knew things could take a turn for the worst in
an instant. Dolores had told me to be careful and come home to her when
she’d kissed me goodbye. For some reason, my wife had always told me I
was handsome, though I didn’t see it. Even with the scars on my face
and hands, Dolores still saw me as a good-looking guy, even after all
our years together.
My years as a Spanish Harlem barrio gang member saw lots of fights, and
sometimes a blade or two got in the way. Years later, it would be
bullets that got in my way during two combat tours in Vietnam. While I
was highly trained in hand-to-hand combat, I hoped I wouldn’t have to
bust a sweat – or bust a move – on the jumper in the Chevy that
night. But I was ready nonetheless.
With 21 years of military service under my belt, I’d fought for my
country and was a proponent of our criminal justice system. No bail
jumper was going to avoid his day in court if I had anything to do with
it. But the clock was ticking. I had to have the jumper back in Tucson
in less than nine hours, by noon that same day, or else I’d forfeit my
10-percent fee, which in this case, was four thousand dollars. Triple
‘A’ Bail Bonds had hired me to find their jumper, who had
disappeared without a trace, so they also stood to lose a lot of money
and property too if the jumper wasn’t brought in.
As I kept the Chevy in sight, I considered what I’d learned about him.
I’d cut my teeth on finding some of the most elusive jumpers, and
I’d always been successful because I took the time to learn all I
could about them. Just like a hunter learns about his prey, their habits
and their lifestyles. Fred Luna at Triple ‘A’ Bail Bonds had told me
plenty about the man I pursued. His name was Jose Luis Aguilar, but best
known as ‘The Destroyer,’ who worked for “The Locos,” a crazy
Mexican gang in South Tucson that boasted about 140 members. The
membership fluctuated on any given day, depending on what The Locos had
been up to, how many members were killed, and how many new members had
been initiated into the crude gang known for its maniacal acts.
‘The Destroyer’ had been arrested on an attempted murder charge; but
after posting bail, compliments of Triple 'A' Bonds, he went FTA (failed
to appear) for his court date. My DEA contacts had also told me that the
Mexican hood was suspected of having iced a couple of his gang’s
competitors who’d tried to muscle in on The Locos’ operations.
That’s just how things were done with gangs, simply the cost of doing
business. But it was this mindset that made my job even more dangerous
since most of my jumpers had seen death many times and would stop at
nothing to avoid jail time. Most of them had nothing to lose as they
fled the law. They knew it; and I knew it too.
With a rap sheet as long as my arm, Jose Luis Aguilar had been in
trouble since he was a kid, with arrests for aggravated assault, grand
theft auto, sale and possession of crack cocaine, and now his newest
pending indictments for attempted murder and attempted armed robbery. He
was looking at twenty- to-life and possibly deportation; and he had no
intention of seeing the inside of a prison cell.
Although I’d expected it might be fruitless, I had gone to see
Aguilar’s sister at the beginning of my manhunt.
“Where’s your brother, Mary?” I asked through the cracked front
Without making eye contact she said, “No idea. I haven’t seen
I knew Aguilar had once gone after a guy who’d attempted to rape his
sister. This meant she ‘owed him;’ and besides that, in Mexican
culture, you just don’t mess with family. Everybody knows that can end
“Tell me the truth, Mary,” I coaxed, using my best ‘nice guy
“I am. I haven’t seen Jose. Honest.”
As she closed the door, I heard her lock it from the other side. My
sixth sense told me, without doubt, that Mary had just lied to me. I
knew Aguilar was inside that house, but I didn’t want his sister to
get hurt if I rushed the house and took him. Collateral damage would
make my job messy and besides, it wasn’t Mary’s fault that her
brother was a dangerous criminal. She shouldn’t have to pay for his
actions with her life.
I walked back toward my car to plan my next move.
Suddenly, a man’s voice yelled out from the doorway where Mary had
“Hey! Pinche Cabron! You ain’t takin’ ME in!”
That's when the proverbial ball fell, and hell followed!
Not knowing if he had a gun on me, I still reacted as if he did. I
figured with all the history of violence Aguilar was associated with, I
wasn’t about to take any chances. Besides, I knew he’d earned his
nickname of ‘The Destroyer’ for a reason. Just like the old Chinese
proverb says in Sun Tzu (The Art of War), “If you know your enemies
and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles . .
.” Those wise words rang true on this day, just as they had way back
in the Sixth Century, BC.
With my back to the house, I flipped up the tail end of my coat and
reached for my Colt holstered at the ready on my side. I drew and
quickly spun around doing a 180-degree right pivot turn on my left foot
as I tracked the figure at the door. With my Colt perfectly aligned on
my target, as he stood in the doorway, a dark shadow silhouette against
the interior light of the house, I was ready. Almost as if in slow
motion, the figure raised his gun and tracked it until he stopped when
it pointed straight at me.
‘Plan for the worst, but hope for the best’ had always sounded like
such a sensible and cool-headed philosophy; that is until the scenario
turns out for the worst! I hoped, in this moment, that the scenario
would end well for me.
Aguilar got off a shot that sailed far to the right of me, as I heard
the bullet whiz right past me, and almost instantly shatter in some
glass somewhere behind me. I figured the bullet must have hit a
windowpane in the distance. I also figured Aguilar must’ve been high
on something because he had missed me by a mile.
With my ears still ringing from his errant gunshot, I tried to stay
focused and to not let my anger get the best of me.
Instinctively my combat training kicked in, as I reflexively bent my
knees and dropped down to the ground onto my left knee, affording the
shooter as small a target as possible. I’d already had the hammer
pulled back and I returned fire and let loose a shot of my own. It
impacted with a loud thump on the door, just as Aguilar shut it again.
Although his shot was way off his mark, I still felt it was too damned
close for comfort. Am I getting too old for this shit? I briefly
wondered, but quickly let go of the thought. In the back of my mind, I
knew that if I felt, for even an instant, that I was too old to be doing
such work, that I would quit, and that my wife would be much happier for
‘Christ, get up! Get up!' I silently yelled to myself. ‘This ain’t
the time for a fucking breather!’
I drew in a long, deep breath and smelled the strong odor of cordite as
it wafted in the air. It was the same lingering telltale scent that
I’d smelled many times before in my lifetime, it always arrives right
after a bullet has been fired.
I slowly exhaled and decided to make my next move. I leapt up and ran
toward the closed door and tried the knob as I stood to the side of it;
but it was locked. Seconds later, I heard a car engine start up on the
side of the house.
Oh Hell, NO! I thought, as I looked toward the direction of the sound.
I had a sinking feeling that things just weren’t going to turn out
well. This just wasn't my day.
The car sped off, away from the house and almost without braking, turned
onto the main street. I caught sight of Aguilar’s sister behind the
wheel as her brother rode shotgun. I let them go, and decided not to
fire into the car, since I didn’t want a stray shot to hit or even
I sprinted back to my car, fired it up and shoved the LeBaron’s
gearshift into first. Almost in the same motion, I turned the steering
wheel left, made a U-turn, and sped off after them.
Just moments later, I spotted the Monte Carlo’s taillights in the
My car was fast since I’d had the engine rebuilt and modified. Still
though, I wasn’t sure it was fast enough to catch up to the Chevy, but
I was going to give it a try.
I knew Aguilar, with his sister beside him, had spotted me behind them
as I steadily closed the gap between our cars. Did he think just because
his sister was driving, that I wouldn’t fire at their car? I asked
myself. No, I wouldn’t, unless she picked up a gun and fired it in my
direction. If that happened, then all bets were off.
I realized now, as I trailed Aguilar’s Chevy at 90 mph, that I
should’ve just knocked down the door and taken him when I’d had the
Right into the danger zone . . . Kenny Loggins sang from my radio as I
shook my head and focused on Aguilar’s taillights that kept getting
The chase was on as I bore down on the taillights ahead of me. As I
rounded a curve, about a car’s length behind Aguilar and his sister,
my right mirror suddenly exploded! Either he was a good shot, or just
lucky; either way, I chucked it up to luck. No one was that good,
shooting behind him and from a speeding car; anyway not someone the
likes of Aguilar, a common street hood. He might be just all juiced-up,
I figured - running on adrenaline.
The scene wasn’t a Hollywood production though; it was for real as we
raced through the empty desert landscape, leaving trails of dust in our
wake. There were neither highway lights nor traffic on the lonely
endless strip of highway; it was just the two of them and me.
The Chevy fast approached the Old Black Canyon Highway, a two-lane road.
I figured they would shoot through it and stay on Highway-17. It
surprised me when they didn’t do that. Red brake lights lit up as the
Chevy briefly slowed and then veered off onto the exit ramp, with me
still about two car lengths behind.
Mary approached the intersection, but didn’t slow down as she sped
through a stop sign, clearly trying to put some distance between us.
Seconds later, I also blew through the intersection, ignoring the stop
sign too, careful not to lose even precious seconds. I put the pedal to
the metal, as my car shot ahead, leaving a plume of white smoke behind
me in the still night.
What happened next took just a few seconds, but there was no way I was
going to let them get away from me. Neck and neck with the Chevy, I
glanced at my speedometer as we raced along at over 90mph. The speed was
just about right for what I had in mind.
In my peripheral, as I raced alongside their car, I saw Aguilar roll
down his side window. I was sure he’d take a shot at me. And just as
he stuck his arm out of the window, gun in hand, I jerked my steering
wheel hard to the left and kept my foot hard on the gas pedal, forcing
the Chevy off the roadway before he could get off a shot.
There was no shoulder of the road to speak of, just tall grassy areas as
the Chevy tore through it. Mary somehow regained control of the car as
it careened back onto the highway, jerking and rocking as she fought to
steer it. By then, I was within spitting distance of the Chevy’s rear
I thought about what I had to do next; hell, I’d done it once or twice
before. Well, practice makes perfect, and what a better time to get my
practice in, I thought, as I considered doing a pit maneuver, as it’s
referred to in law enforcement. The tactic is a precision immobilization
technique - or my own personal abbreviation of it, anyway. In the
military police, we called this technique a takeout, which is sort of
With my hands tightly gripping the steering wheel, I rammed the Chevy
hard against its left side bumper. This time, the technique’s outcome
was totally different. The car was completely out of control, as it
swerved to the right, giving me a clear view of its side.
I saw my chance and too quick advantage. I accelerated hard on the gas
pedal and rammed the Chevy’s passenger side door, then reduced my
speed, since I didn’t want the Chevy to flip over on its side. I kept
my speed to about 20mph as I pushed Aguilar’s car clear across the
road, and forced it into a clump of trees on the other side of the
Suddenly, from the Chevy’s driver’s side, glass shattered; and then,
with a loud thunderous clap and squelching boom of metal, the Chevy hit
a tree hard and came to a hard stop. It was now sandwiched between the
tree and the front of my car.
As the dust settled, all was quiet and still. I shifted my car into
reverse and backed off a couple of feet. After I’d killed the engine,
I climbed out of my LeBaron as my car’s headlights illuminated the
Chevy’s side. In one motion, I pulled out my Colt, cocked back the
hammer on a live round, and took a combat stance as I held my weapon in
both hands, shoulders slightly turned and legs shoulder width apart.
With my gun pointed at the Chevy’s passenger door, I waited to see
what Aguilar would do next.
There was no movement from inside their car, just moans and groans. With
my knees slightly bent and my Colt still held in front of me, I slowly
took three steps toward the Chevy and then cautiously stopped. I watched
as Aguilar regained consciousness and started pushing with his shoulders
against the passenger door, groaning with the effort, as he attempted to
open the door that was twisted and wedged from the impact.
Wordless and dazed, Aguilar stared at me as I approached, and then I saw
his eyes suddenly glaze over. Since I didn’t see a weapon, I holstered
my Colt and walked closer to the Chevy.
After several tries, I forcefully opened the mangled door, then grabbed
Aguilar and pulled him out of the car by his shoulders.
As I held his right arm, I shoved him to the ground and then bent his
right arm up behind his back. I straddled him and then pushed him down
at the back of his neck with my right knee, as I pulled out a set of
cuffs. I got his left arm behind him and finished cuffing him. With my
right knee still on his neck, and Aguilar still dazed, confused and
disoriented he wasn’t about to give me any resistance. All the fight
had been knocked out of him.
As blood dripped from a wound on the side of his head and still more
blood ran from his mouth, reality started to sink in as he fought to
focus. He seemed to be gathering his senses.
“Maria!” he cried.
His own health seemed only an afterthought to the hardened criminal, as
Aguilar questioned his sister's condition. You should’ve thought of
that before you put her in the car with you! I thought.
I went over and looked into the wrecked car that rested against the
tree. Mary was motionless, slumped over the steering wheel, so I went
back to finish with Aguilar.
I pulled him by his handcuffed arms up onto his feet and then shoved him
toward my car. He must’ve twisted his ankle, because he limped along
as blood continued to drip from his head and his mouth.
With one hand, I opened the right back passenger door, and with the
other, I shoved him inside. Once he was safely seated, I reached in and
cuffed him to the iron center post I’d installed for just such a
purpose. He wasn’t going anywhere, except back to jail, where he
Once again he cried out for his sister.
“Maria! Estas bien? Are you okay?"
I’ve always prided myself in trying to stay one step ahead of my
opponents. It’s something I’ve learned, not just in combat, or in my
martial arts training, but even in playing chess. Still though, even I
didn’t see or sense what would happen next.
Just as I shut the car door on Aguilar, I heard shuffling sounds behind
me. Before I could even turn around, I heard Mary crying, yelling and
“Mister, let my brother go!” she said.
Ever so slowly, I slid my right hand up to the comforting butt of my
Colt that waited faithfully at the ready. Not taking any chances, I
turned around and faced Mary head-on. She stood beside the open
passenger door of the Chevy holding a gun in both her hands. Mary barely
pointed the gun in my direction though, as it canted more toward the
ground than at me. Blood ran from her forehead and down into her eyes
from a gash above her eye. I presumed she’d sustained the injury when
she’d struck the steering wheel; and I could tell the blood in her
eyes was obscuring her field of vision.
Madre De Dios! Just great! I thought. Can this possibly get any worse?
I was about to find out.
If it were anyone else beside Mary, I would have already been shot in
the back without hesitation or even a second thought. No doubt about it,
someone was definitely looking out for me in that moment.
I looked straight at her.
“I’m not going to do that, Mary. So, drop the gun or I’ll pull
this trigger and shoot you dead.”
Aguilar yelled and shouted at his sister from the backseat of my car. He
cried out in Spanish. “Maria, he’ll kill you. Do what he says!”
She said, “He . . . won’t shoot me.”
But something in her voice sounded as if she wasn’t all that sure.
As I let her lock eyes with mine, I gave her a cold hard look.
I said, "Look at me very closely. Are you willing to bet your life on
Excerpted from "No Time To Kill" by Victor Alvarez. Copyright © 2018 by Victor Alvarez. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.