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Afternoon Edition: March 9, 2021

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

Pedro Flores (left) and his twin brother Margarito Flores, once Chicago’s biggest drug traffickers, rose from street-level Chicago drug dealers to the top of the cartel world — and, when they got caught, helped bring down Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, the Mexican drug kingpin who headed the Sinaloa cartel.
U.S. Marshals Service

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 66 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 52 degrees. Tomorrow will be rainy with a high near 64 degrees.

Top story

Chicago twins who helped convict El Chapo face new probe after ending prison terms

Six years have passed since a federal judge in Chicago rewarded two of the most significant drug informants in U.S. history with relatively light 14-year prison sentences in exchange for their extraordinary cooperation against Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera.

Now, twin brothers Pedro Flores and Margarito Flores — who rose from street-level Chicago drug dealers to the region’s biggest drug traffickers — are once again under federal investigation, court records examined by us indicate.

The court filings came in the long-running Sinaloa drug case in Chicago and were filed by Ralph Meczyk, a defense lawyer for Felipe Cabrera-Sarabia, one of the remaining defendants in the case.

In December, Meczyk wrote that two people who cooperated with prosecutors against the cartel “are likely to be indicted afresh on new charges stemming from criminal conduct that occurred while they were incarcerated.”

In an interview, Meczyk told us he was referring to the 39-year-old Flores brothers, but he declined to elaborate.

The Flores brothers — known as the Twins — have admitted they smuggled at least 1,500 kilograms of Sinaloa cartel cocaine into the United States every month between 2005 and 2008. And, according to their guilty pleas, they sent more than $930 million in “bulk cash” back to the cartel in Mexico.

Though the nature and status of the new investigation isn’t clear, a court filing last year revealed that “the government no longer holds the view that all recoverable proceeds were turned over to the government.”

Read Jon Seidel and Frank Main’s full story here.

More news you need

  1. A line of people stretched nearly a block near the United Center this morning as the mass vaccination site outside the building began administering shots to residents. A total of 180,000 people are expected to be vaccinated at the site over the course of eight weeks.
  2. The state’s vaccination numbers rebounded yesterday with another 75,372 doses administered, but it’s still far behind the record daily high of more than 134,000 set last week. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he expects those numbers to consistently increase as vaccine supply grows and as more vaccination sites are up and running.
  3. An exasperated Cook County judge today repeatedly told Adam Hollingsworth — better known as the Dread Head Cowboy — to stop making social media posts that contain false information pertaining to his case or are disrespectful to prosecutors. “You really run the risk of me holding you in contempt of court,” Judge Michael McHale warned.
  4. The cause of a fire in Des Plaines that killed four children and their mother in January remains uncertain, but authorities say it likely started several minutes before anyone called 911. The findings were part of a 43-page report released today by the Des Plaines Fire Department.
  5. Chicago traffic ranks as the third-worst in the country, behind only New York City and Philadelphia, according to an analysis of traffic data. The annual report by INRIX also lists the Eisenhower Expressway as the most congested road in the entire nation.
  6. A trio of local brewers aim to set up shop in Bronzeville as the city’s first Black-owned brewery since Vice District Brewery shut down in 2019. After rave reviews from family members, Turner Haus Brewery has been making a name for itself at local beer tasting events.
  7. The California Clipper, a longtime Humboldt Park tavern that shuttered last year amid the pandemic, plans to reopen, its landlord says. In the meantime, the bar is being rented by entertainment company Lionsgate, which plans to film scenes for the upcoming Starz series “Power Book IV: Force.”

A bright one

In bright colors, at life-size scale, artist Bisa Butler portrays everyday people — on quilts

Erica Warren, associate curator of textiles at the Art Institute of Chicago, was making a routine visit to Expo Chicago in 2018 when she and another staff member made a happy discovery: a virtually unknown quilt artist named Bisa Butler.

“The colors, the dynamism, the figures themselves, the scale — there is so much that draws you in,” Warren said of Butler’s creations. “You see the work from far away, and you immediately need to get close and see what is happening. And when you do get close, you realize that it is indeed textile and not painting.”

Three years later, in what is just her fourth solo exhibition anywhere, the lifelong New Jersey artist is showcased at the Art Institute, a huge milestone in a now-skyrocketing career that is still in many ways just getting started.

Bisa Butler, “The Safety Patrol,” 2018. Cavigga Family Trust Fund © Bisa Butler

“Bisa Butler: Portraits,” which was co-organized by the Katonah (N.Y.) Museum of Art, has been extended through Sept. 6 after having been closed for several months along with the rest of Art Institute because of COVID-19 protocols.

Butler’s works build on a long tradition of African American quilt-making in the United States, including the now-famous artists from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, but they differ in their unusual painterliness and focus on portraiture.

Read Kyle MacMillan’s full story on the Art Institute’s “Bisa Butler: Portraits” exhibit here.

From the press box

Modifications are underway at Wrigley Field to prepare the stadium for Opening Day after authorities gave the green light for roughly 8,200 fans to attend each Cubs game this spring. Most tickets will be made available to season ticket holders, but the team says a limited amount will be sold to the general public.

The Bears put the franchise tag on receiver Allen Robinson today, preventing the disgruntled star from hitting free agency. The team can now bring Robinson back on a lucrative one-year deal, sign him to a long-term contract or trade him.

The Seahawks omitted Russell Wilson from a letter to fans hyping the 2021 season that specifically named several other players. After the Cowboys signed Dak Prescott, the Bears remain one of three teams on the short list that Wilson gave Seattle for a potential trade.

Your daily question ☕

With the news that Chicago traffic was ranked third-worst in the country, what’s the most congested street in your neighborhood?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: Do you plan to attend a Cubs or White Sox game under limited capacity this summer? Here’s what some of you said...

“We’d love to but we aren’t season ticket holders. I highly doubt we will have the chance to buy general tickets and I can only imagine how high resale ticket prices will be.” — Amy Mitrenga

“Yes! I want to attend games at Wrigley Field as long as tickets are affordable. Otherwise I will be going to more and more Schaumburg Boomers games.” — Jim Rafferty

“If I can get a ticket, 100% yes!” — Casey Ruston Torrey

“Once I get my vaccine, then yeah, I’ll be going.” — Ryan Beth

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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