NA: Where is my brother?
I: He’s being detained in another room.
NA: What are you doing to him? He can’t talk. He doesn’t know anything, and he’s going to be upset if I’m not there!
I: If you’ll cooperate with us and we get through this quickly, we can release you and you’ll be together again.
NA: Listen to me: I am not going to tell you anything until Juanito is with me.
[After several minutes of negotiation, it is agreed that Juan Ayala, alias “High John,” is allowable in the interrogation room with Ms. Ayala in exchange for her cooperation. Ms. Ayala addresses Mr. Ayala in Spanish for several moments, ascertaining that he is unhurt and calm. Interrogation continues.]
I: Regarding the charges of solicitation…
NA: I never did that. Never ever.
I: We have a recording of the phone conversation.
NA: You listen to it! You listen to what I say. I do not do anything more than what is in the rules at the club. Never! You can test me if you like. I am not stupid. I do not sleep with clients.
I: You never received money in exchange for-
NA: NEVER. You can talk to Cesar [DuBose, proprietor of Nine Lives] if you like. There has been trouble when I refused before. We are only to look at. If a dancer is soliciting, she does not come back.
I: Are you willing to sign a statement to that effect?
NA: You give it to me now, if it says I never sleep with clients, I sign it. Never, never, never. I dance. I show them a good time, make them feel happy. That is all. They want to get off, they have to talk to someone else.
[Further interrogation on similar lines, with no deviation in Ms. Ayala’s avowals. A statement is prepared, Ms. Ayala reads and signs it. (See Appendix C.) NOTE: Statements obtained from Cesar DuBose and other Nine Lives employees confirm Ms. Ayala’s statement. (See Appendix D.)]
[Mr. Ayala gets Ms. Ayala’s attention. After some interaction, Ms. Ayala requests beverages and food, which are supplied. Interrogation continues, introducing the subject of “Dirty Cupid” brand potions.]
NA: So what is the problem? I do not sell anything you cannot find in any voodoo store on Bourbon Street.
I: Your products are actually designed to alter a person’s mental state.
NA: So the things I sell work. Is this a crime?
I: It’s a crime to offer a substance for the express purpose of controlling another person’s will.
NA: What?! BULLSHIT! How is it that they can sell these things in a store and it is fine, but when I-
[Mr. Ayala becomes upset. Ms. Ayala stops to calm him down, then returns to the interrogation.]
NA: Listen, I make sure to do everything legal. I don’t need to go to jail. Who else is going to take care of Juanito? Who is going to make sure he goes to the doctor and takes his medicine? You show me, you show me what it is I do wrong that is different, I stop it.
I: You say that, but there is the matter of the incident at Bullseye on October 17…
[Ms. Ayala quickly says something in Spanish, then settles back and does not speak.]
I: We have evidence collected after the incident that links it and products from Dirty Cupid.
NA: …the potions were not made to do that. I do not know why it happened. I don’t sell to make monsters. I would have no customers.
I: Then why-
NA: I swear on all my ancestors, I had nothing to do with that. It was love potions and a potion of friendship. That was all.
I: According to the reports from forensics [Appendix B], there was a different ingredient…
NA: I got something new from a supplier. Experimental. It was supposed to make things more powerful. You know, if it works, then I don’t have to use as many ingredients, so there’s more profit, and…
I: What was the supplier?
NA: It… They contacted me a long time ago. Vital Herbals. Everything else was normal. High quality, that was why I liked them. It’s not easy, you know, to find a local supplier for the things I make. For something real.
I: Can you give us any details on Vital Herbals?
NA: I have a package from them. It was mostly on email we talked. [See Appendix H for email transcripts.] I never… There was never anything wrong with these supplies before! I would not use these things if they did anything but what they were supposed to. Please… I can’t go to jail! If I can’t take care of Juanito…