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Key cooperator against ‘El Chapo’ denied compassionate release

Margarito Flores’ request led to the revelation federal prosecutors no longer believe he and his brother turned over all of their assets to the government.

Margarito Flores
Margarito Flores

A federal judge has denied compassionate release from prison to a man who, along with his brother, has been heralded as one of the most important drug informants in U.S. history.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman denied Saturday the request from Margarito Flores, court records show. However, she also said Flores had not exhausted his administrative options, and she left Flores the option of later renewing his request.

Though Flores’ original request was filed under seal, the judge’s order noted that “Flores asserts that he has undergone recent medical procedures that have increased his risk of contracting COVID-19, including being hospitalized after experiencing extremely restricted breathing, undergoing surgery to remove an abscess in his jaw, and developing a blood infection as a result of the abscess.”

Flores’ request led to the revelation last week that federal prosecutors no longer believe Flores and his brother, Pedro, had turned over all of their assets to the government despite their extraordinary cooperation.

Margarito Flores is due to be released from custody in November, records show. A government filing last week said he is “currently serving his sentence in an institution within the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the location of which remains undisclosed” to protect his safety.

The Flores brothers, known as the Twins, pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2014 and were given relatively light prison sentences of 14 years. Pedro Flores testified against Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera during his trial in Brooklyn, which led to a life prison term for him.

Margarito Flores has said he met with Guzman and others in the mountains of northern Mexico in October 2008 after the brothers agreed to cooperate with the U.S. government against the Sinaloa cartel led by “El Chapo.” Pedro Flores provided the feds in Chicago with key evidence against Chapo: a recorded phone call in which they discussed a drug deal.

When the Flores brothers were sentenced, the judge told them, even after they do their time and are released into the government’s witness-protection program, they’ll always have to worry about being hunted down by cartel hit men. Last year, they lost a bid to have their sentences shortened for their continuing cooperation against the Sinaloa cartel.

Contributing: Frank Main