An Interview with Alejandra (Allie) Santiago, heroine of Chasing Freedom

“You certainly are a long way from Nogales, Mexico, Ms. Sant—”

“Please, just call me Allie. Alejandra Santiago—it’s too many syllables.”

“Okay, Allie. Please tell us how you got from a border town in Mexico to Oregon State University.”

“An international scholarship. The scholarship gave me a chance to complete OSU’s PharmD program. As a pharmacist, I could work anywhere in Northern Mexico and make enough money to help my family.”

“What a wonderful opportunity. There’s so much poverty in Mexico that—”

“No. You don’t understand. Papa is a successful businessman. If we lived in the USA, we would be—how do you say it—an upper-middle-class family? But the cartel in our area makes all businesses pay protection money. So much money that business owners have become unable to support their families. A few months ago, my father tried to organize the business owners to oppose the cartel.”

“Stand up to a drug cartel? He sounds like a brave man.”

“He is. But the cartel put a price on his head and my family had to leave. About a week ago, Papa called me and said he had a work visa and the promise of a good job in Northern California. They had left Mexico. I was on break between summer classes, so I drove to Redding to visit them. The promise of a job was a lie.  The cartel captured them, took their visas, and made slaves of them. When I arrived in Redding, the cartel captured me too. They took us into the mountains.”

“Oh, my. That must have been awful. But you’re here now …”

“I got away. My father told me they were planning to sell me to human traffickers. I’m a distance runner, so Papa told me to run. When I saw him last, he was fighting two men so I could escape. I don’t know what happened to Mama, Papa, and my little brother.”

“But you’re safe. Did you outrun the men?”

“Yes. I ran fifteen, maybe twenty miles through the mountains and the men chased me. I collapsed in the arms of a man, Jeff Jacobs. He picked me up and ran for two miles carrying me. The gunmen shot at us. They hit Jeff’s arm, only an inch from my head. But he just ran away from those men. I think Jeff is a world-class athlete, but I’m not sure. He won’t talk about that subject.”

“That’s quite a story. But world-class athlete … Jeff Jacobs. Are you sure you’ve never heard about him in the news?”

“No. Why would you ask that?”

“Well, it’s not something Mr. Jacobs would want to talk about—”

“Then I don’t want to hear it from you. He’s a good man. He saved my life and now he’s trying to save my family, if we can find them.”

“So you believe the cartel still has them?”

“I hope so … that they’re still alive, I mean. The cartel forces them to work to produce drugs.  Jeff and I hope to get US law enforcement involved, but there is so much danger to my family. Their visas and ID were taken by the cartel and there was no good job. So, even if we find them, their immigration status will cause more problems. They could be deported. Then they would be killed by the cartel in Nogales.”

“Allie, with all that’s happening, we need to pray that the FBI or DEA can find your family and that—”

“You pray if you want to. God, if He exists, wouldn’t listen to the prayers of an eight-year-old girl when she needed Him. So why should I expect Him to listen to a twenty-one-year-old woman?”


Bio: H.L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. In civilian life, he served as a Research Scientist in the Atmospheric Physics Department at a national lab. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked 20+ years in systems development at Boeing before retiring near Seattle, where he and his wife enjoy small-group ministry, grandchildren, hiking beaches in the Olympic National Park, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and high-action, romantic-suspense novels. He is a multi-published author with 7 inspirational thrillers and 2 nonfiction books published and several more novels on the way.

Blurb for Chasing Freedom – which won second place for Inspirational Fiction in the 2017 Oklahoma Romance Writers of America International Digital Awards:

How far would you be willing to go if you were chasing freedom?

When Allie Santiago, student at Oregon State University, and her family are captured and labor trafficked by the drug cartel that drove her father from Mexico, she learns the cartel thugs plan to sell her to human traffickers. Allie escapes, running a marathon through the mountains of Northern California, and collapses in the arms of Jeff Jacobs, a disgraced Olympic decathlete who wants his honor back. When Jeff’s actions engage the FBI and US Marshals to protect Allie and to free her family, a war breaks out in the mountains along the Oregon-California border.

Will Jeff’s efforts enable the two to survive and their budding relationship to grow? Not if he can’t keep Allie and her family out of the black hole known as asylum detention. And the reward he now seeks for his efforts, Allie’s love, might evaporate like his dream of Olympic gold once Allie learns about Jeff’s scandalous past.

Chasing Freedom, a modern-day story of honor and courage, of faith and love, and the importance of family.

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One Thought to “Chasing Freedom Character Interview by H.L. Wegley”

  1. Thanks for hosting me, Julie!

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