When I wrote my novel, “Skyscrapers,” one of the characters was a major drug importer/dealer named Diego Diaz. I had been studying gun control and was well aware Chicago had become a major hub for drug dealers supplying Midwestern America. The chief honcho in Mexico was named Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who shipped drugs from Colombia to Mexico “using submarines, speedboats and amphibious vessels to avoid law enforcement,” according to “The Chicago Tribune,” January 8, 2015. Twin brothers in Chicago were the primary receivers and distributors of the drugs. They have been held in custody for six years and yesterday received fourteen-year sentences for their part in “smuggling at least 71 tons of cocaine and heroin and nearly $2 billion in cash from 2005 – 2008” according to the newspaper.
The twins were a single person in my novel, one very attractive to the young Eleanora Torquemada when they were both growing up poor in one of Powhaten’s Mexican neighborhoods. (I had Chicago’s Pilsen in mind.) During the novel Leonora, who now calls herself Ellie Smith, shortening her Mexican first name and using her married last name to Anglicize herself as part of her transformation into one of Powhaten’s most dynamic CEO’s. She re-meets Diego Diaz in the novel, still finds him attractive but stays away from him, well aware of who he is and what he does. She ends up helping to put him in jail.
But her dilemma is one a lot of people who grow up in poor neighborhoods face. In adulthood, some favorite people may have become people with whom one can no longer associate because of their illegal activities or unsavory associates. The twins who were sentenced to prison yesterday had done what Eleanora Torquemada Smith did: they turned against the cartel. They worked for the Federal government to such an extent that they entered into Guzman’s personal mountaintop compound in Mexico and secretly recorded him, a level of success Assistant U.S. Attorney General Michael Ferrara said “may never be duplicated.”
It’s interesting to me to see moves I put into a novel based on certain fact, actually play themselves out in real life the way I played them out in the novel.