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Helena

Helena Ayala played by Catherine Zeta-Jones in Traffic (2000)

Helena Ayala is one of the main characters of the crime drama film Traffic (2000) directed by Steven Soderbergh. Helena is the struggling wife of Carlos Ayala, a drug distributor in the U.S.A. who experiments a period in prison.


Helena was born in Europe and traveled soon to the U.S.A. with her family. She and her family were from the slums, but Helena with her strong character and her inner sense of survival, soon was coupled to the gentry due to her marriage with Carlos Ayala, an important businessman from San Diego. Helena has a son with Carlos.

  • Helena is happy with her life with her husband Carlos Ayala and her son
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Carlos Ayala is arrested by the DEA in front of her wife Helena and his son.

She loves her opulent and secure lifestyle with her husband and her son but, when she is pregnant with her second child from Carlos, her husband is arrested by the DEA at her home in front of her and her son.

Ignorant of why they have arrested her husband, Helena soon seeks advice from Arnie, a trusted colleague of her husband. At first Arnie doesn't want to give any information to Helena, but soon (at her home) Arnie confess to Helena that Carlos is a drug distributor in the whole Baja California for a mexican drug cartel.

  • Helena reacts to Arnie's confession about her husband being a drug distributor
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Helena discorvers at her home useful information to set her husband free from prison

The first reaction of Helena is to be shocked by the information, but she soon gets used to nasty business of her husband and she doesn't care it's a business without morality. What she really wants is to recover the life she had for the sake of her and her son (who's having death threats). She just doesn't want to bring up her son in the slum environment she was raised.

Her husband gives her clues of what to do the set him free from jail. So Helena discovers at her home a secret account of telephone numbers and directions of contacts.

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Helena negociates the assassination of Eduardo Ruiz with the hitman Frankie Flores

Helena then contacts a hitman of the cartel of Tijuana and hires him to assassinate the only witness who can testify against her husband; she knows killing Eduardo Ruiz will effectively end the trial nolle prosequi. Flores plants a car bomb on a DEA car in an assassination attempt against Ruiz. Shortly after planting the bomb, Flores is assassinated by a sniper in retaliation for his co-operation with General Salazar; the car bomb kills Castro, but Gordon and Ruiz survive. 

After the failing murder attempt Helena goes to Mexico to make a deal with Juan Obregón, the lord of the drug cartel of Tijuana, who forgives the debt of the Ayala family and has Eduardo Ruiz poisoned.

So, thans to the operations of his wife, Carlos Ayala is released, and him and Helena and their soon recover their reputation and their opulent life.

Personality: 

Catherine Zeta-Jones portrays Helena Ayala as a cheesy and cheerful high-class who harbours a strong
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character. 

She was raised in the slums and always dreamed to have a better life. She manages to have that when she married Carlos Ayala.

When she discovers that her husband is an important drug dealer she doesn't have a reaction of cutting all ties with him. On the contrary, she accepts her husband business and only cares to have her family safe and with the opulent and reputed style of life she always wanted for herself and for her family. She loves dearly her husband and her son, and will do anything to have them safe and with a high level of life.

During the film, Helena shows that she has the smarts to deal with the lords of the drug and to negotiate with them drug busines and the freedom of her husband.

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