El Chapo case fallout: Wife of top El Chapo associate Pedro Flores never got a deal, feds say
Vivianna Lopez, whose husband Pedro Flores was once Chicago’s biggest cocaine trafficker, ‘did not receive immunity’ or ‘a non-prosecution agreement’ to keep her from being prosecuted for laundering drug money, a prosecutor says.
Federal prosecutors say the wife of one of Sinaloa drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera’s top associates in Chicago never was granted immunity from criminal charges, disputing her claim she can’t be prosecuted.
Vivianna Lopez, the wife of Pedro Flores, who with his brother Margarito Flores was once the biggest cocaine trafficker in Chicago, is facing money-laundering charges in Chicago in connection with her husband’s drug business.
Lea este artículo en español en La Voz Chicago, un servicio presentado por AARP Chicago.
Her lawyer MiAngel Cody has argued that Lopez can’t be prosecuted because she was granted immunity from prosecution.
Cody pointed to Flores’ testimony at El Chapo’s 2018 trial in New York that helped send the leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel to prison. A prosecutor in the El Chapo case asked Flores, “Was your wife ever charged with collecting drug debts?” and he answered, “No, she was given immunity.”
But that isn’t true, federal prosecutors said In a court filing Monday.
“Ms. Lopez did not receive immunity from the United States, nor did the United States enter into a non-prosecution agreement for the benefit of Ms. Lopez,” assistant U.S. attorney Andrew Erskine said.
“It bears noting that, even if Ms. Lopez had received immunity in the past, it would not have authorized future criminal conduct such as the conduct charged in the indictment,” Erskine said.
Lopez’s lawyer pushed back on prosecutors’ assertion that no immunity documents exist, saying oral deals have been upheld in the past.
Cody also said prosecutors made no attempt to correct Flores’ 2018 testimony.
“The government is playing a disingenuous game,” she said.
Prosecutors have accused Lopez and Valerie Gaytan, the wife of Flores’ twin brother Margarito Flores of using cartel drug money to take lavish trips, pay for school for their children and pay off Lopez’s student loans after their husbands were arrested in 2008.
In their book “Cartel Wives,” the women described having lived at one time in a Mexican mountaintop estate with servants and a menagerie of animals that included horses, monkeys and a tiger cub.
Pedro Flores and Margarito Flores, who grew up on the Southwest Side and lived in Chicago, cooperated with prosecutors against Guzman and got relatively light sentences of 14 years in prison, which they’ve served. El Chapo got a life sentence.
The Flores twins were released into witness protection in late 2020.
At their 2015 sentencing hearing, a federal judge warned them that they would always need to be looking over their shoulders for Guzman’s assassins.