Ex-dealers say McDonald’s was the business model, students sue Loyola for ‘mishandled’ sex misconduct claims and more in your Chicago news roundup

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

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A courtroom sketch showing Pedro Flores (left) and his twin brother and former partner in crime Margarito Flores appearing before then-U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo in Chicago in 2015.


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

This afternoon will be rainy and cloudy with a high near 70 degrees. Tonight will also be rainy with a chance of thunderstorms and a low near 58 degrees. Thunderstorms are expected tomorrow with a high near 61. Sunday will be sunny with a high near 63.

Top story

From flipping Big Macs to importing tons of cocaine: Chicago twins who helped bring down El Chapo say McDonald’s was their business model

The twin brothers who authorities say were the most prolific drug dealers in Chicago history — and, after being caught, helped bring down Sinaloa cartel drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera — say they learned some of their management skills while cooking french fries and working the drive-thru at a McDonald’s.

In new interviews, Pedro Flores and Margarito Flores say they were 17 when they decided to work at the burger chain’s restaurant at 26th Street and Kedzie Avenue in Little Village.

The Golden Arches gave the brothers a basic education in running a business, everything from having a consistent product to being prepared to absorb a financial loss, they say in the new podcast “Surviving El Chapo: The Twins Who Brought Down A Drug Lord,” offering a rare inside look at the drug trade.

The twins say they got their first lessons about running a drug business from their father in the late 1980s after he finished serving prison time for arranging a heroin deal at the same McDonald’s in Little Village.

The brothers say they were just 7 when they accompanied him on road trips to buy marijuana in Mexico. They learned to compress the marijuana to transport it to Chicago, spraying Coca-Cola on the leaves to make them stick together, according to the podcast, and learned about crossing the border, which routes to take and how to avoid the attention of customs agents. Their father moved to Mexico, and their older brother Armando Flores, a drug dealer, became their father figure, making them help around the house, attend a Catholic school and come home before the city’s evening curfew. But Armando Flores went to prison on a 1998 drug charge, and the twins were on their own.

The brothers made their first drug deal at the McDonald’s at 26th and Kedzie, not far from their home, according to the podcast. By 17, they say, they were selling a lot of cocaine, sitting on $1 million in profits and needed to create a system “where you can’t mess it up.” For them, McDonald’s was the model.

The podcast doesn’t always identify which brother is speaking, but one is heard saying, “I was learning the business part at McDonald’s. I’m learning to do fries. I’m learning to grill. I washed the dishes. I did the drive-thru. I did the front.

“It was a great experience for the both of us, I think.”

Frank Main has more context on the Flores brothers’ recent comments here.

More news you need

  1. Bail was denied for a restaurant owner charged with killing his girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant with his child, prosecutors said. Yaer Shen, 46, was charged with first-degree murder, intentional homicide of an unborn child and concealment of a homicidal death, prosecutors said.
  2. In a new lawsuit, three women say Loyola University Chicago “systemically mishandled and underreported student complaints of sexual misconduct” and “maintained a de facto policy” to “suppress reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment.” Our Mary Norkol has more on their stories and where the university stands here.
  3. In other campus safety news, the University of Chicago has received seven reports from undergraduate students in the past couple of months that they may have been drugged at parties on campus, and one of them reported being sexually assaulted. The university sent out an alert yesterday encouraging students with similar experiences to file a report.
  4. Two officers who allegedly lied about the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old man are now facing dismissal more than 12 years after the deadly encounter, which has cost the city millions of dollars in a lawsuit. Our Tom Schuba has more on the disciplinary charges filed by Chicago police Supt. David Brown here.
  5. With tensions high across the country ahead of the hotly contested midterms, Chicago officials gathered at a downtown polling place today and pledged to protect voters and poll workers. They also insisted there are no looming threats ahead of Election Day.
  6. Gov. J.B. Pritzker pledged to remove a barrier to abortion for people in prison. The announcement comes after a WBEZ investigation found that incarcerated people had to pay for the procedure and the wages of the correctional officer required to accompany them to appointments outside the prison.
  7. For the last few years, Shara Washington has been cooking meals for Chicagoans experiencing homelessness, delivering the food to encampments on the Near West Side while funding the effort mostly herself. “Cooking is my love language,” Washington told our Michael Loria for his recent coverage of her outreach.
  8. Tucked into the new and much-debated 764-page law that does away with Illinois’ cash-bail system is a paragraph that could have a big impact. It means that people caught with small amounts of drugs won’t have to sit in jail for days until they’re brought before a judge. The change follows a Sun-Times/BGA investigation last year that documented the impact of “dead-end” drug arrests in which people are briefly locked up, only to see the charges soon dismissed.
  9. Sean “Diddy” Combs could become a dominant player in the cannabis industry with a pending, estimated $155 million deal for production and retail outlets in the Chicago area and in New York and Massachusetts. Combs is buying assets being spun off by Cresco Labs as part of its acquisition of a competitor, Columbia Care, making Combs the nation’s first Black investor in marijuana with multistate operations.

A bright one

Morton Grove family donates Chicago’s 2022 Christmas tree for Millennium Park site

Vesna Glisovic of Morton Grove is sending the City of Chicago a very special holiday greeting this year.

A 55-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce that stood on the front lawn of her family’s home for many decades has been selected to be this year’s official city Christmas tree, it was announced this morning. The tree, selected from nearly 80 entries in the city’s annual Christmas tree hunt, will be making its new home in Millennium Park for the holiday season.

Vesna and her husband, Mike, both from Serbia, moved into their Morton Grove home in 1990 and found the young spruce tree — barely taller than her husband at the time — to be a perfect component of their landscape, especially during the holidays.

“We would decorate it with Christmas lights every year,” she said. “But then it just grew so tall that we couldn’t decorate it anymore.”

This 55-foot Colorado blue spruce from Vesna Glisovic of Morton Grove will make its way to downtown Chicago where it will become the city’s official Christmas tree in Millennium Park.

This 55-foot Colorado blue spruce from the Glisovic family of Morton Grove will make its way to downtown Chicago where it will become the city’s official Christmas tree in Millennium Park.

Courtesy of the Glisovic Family

The tree was beloved by the family nonetheless, as it became the “beautiful backdrop” for many of their celebrations.

“We would take pictures on holidays and for graduations, in front of it, and when our son got married in the middle of December, he and his wife came here to take their photos, opening a bottle of champagne right in front of it, to celebrate the day. So we have just loved the tree,” Glisovic said.

Glisovic said she had thought of entering the tree contest for several years but never did. This year she decided it was time as it was becoming apparent the tree was in its twilight years and would need to come down anyway.

“I’m so happy to share our tree with the world, and be part of this tradition,” Glisovic said.

Miriam Di Nunzio has more with the Glisovic family and the origins of this year’s tree here.

From the press box

Your daily question☕

What’s something only Chicagoans know how to do?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What’s something every Chicagoan can agree on?

Here’s what some of you said...

“Every Chicagoan can agree that our winters are frigid, our summers are broiling and when we are alone we put ketchup on our hot dogs.” — Gene Tenner

Summer in Chicago us the reason we put up with Winter in Chicago.” — Howard Moore

“Alleys are better than no alleys (like New York).” — Sean Nightingale

“The skyline is the best!” — Reni Blue Spruce

“Our baseball teams will disappoint us nine times out of 10 but we still can’t help but love them.” — Christopher B. Alexandrov

“Italian Beef is the King of all sandwiches in the United States.” — Niz Mike

“Good house music.” — Maurice Moore

“It will always be the Sears Tower!” — Jose Lozano

“Our pizza is the best.” — Amit Bhambri

“Lake Michigan is beautiful!” — Joe Flynn

“Don’t swim in the river.” — Giannis Michaels

“Mustard is the only answer.” — Kurtis Arndt

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

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