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

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

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 the Chicago Sun-Times 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.”

Last month, Meczyk narrowed down who he was talking about, writing that “the government’s two star witnesses and close family members are currently the subject of additional federal investigation likely to result in charges.”

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

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago wouldn’t comment.

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.”

Jack Riley, the former federal Drug Enforcement Administration special-agent-in-charge of the Chicago field division, who helped put away Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera.
Sun-Times file

Jack Riley, who ran the Chicago office of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008, when federal authorities in Chicago got the Twins to cooperate against Guzman, said Monday, “We never had a good accounting of all of their money.

“For them to have other criminal activities that didn’t come up isn’t surprising to me,” said Riley, who’s now retired.

Sources said the Flores brothers are free on probation after serving 85% of their 14-year prison terms, including time they spent in custody since their arrests in 2008.

In 2019, they tried unsuccessfully to get their sentences cut.

The Flores brothers were raised in Little Village. Margarito Flores Sr., their father, was convicted of smuggling drugs from Mexico to the United States. In 2009, he traveled to Mexico against the advice of his sons and federal authorities. His empty car was found in the Sinaloa desert with a note on the windshield warning his sons to keep quiet. He’s presumed dead.

At their sentencing in 2015, a federal judge told the brothers they’d always have to worry about being hunted down by cartel hit men after cooperating with prosecutors against El Chapo.

Pedro Flores testified against Guzman in 2018 at his trial in Brooklyn, which ended with a life prison sentence for the cartel boss.

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 U.S. authorities. Pedro Flores provided prosecutors in Chicago key evidence against Guzman: a recorded phone call in which they discussed a drug deal.

The U.S. government seized more than $4 million from the Flores brothers — and also provided their family members $300,000 for living expenses.

“Cartel Wives, A True Story of Deadly Decisions, Steadfast Love, and Bringing Down El Chapo.”
Grand Central Publishing

But the brothers’ spending while in protective custody prompted authorities to question whether more money was hidden. Pedro Flores gave his wife a $200,000 Bentley shortly before he went to prison. Authorities seized the car and prosecutors called the gift “wholly inappropriate.”

In their book “Cartel Wives,” the Flores brothers’ spouses — writing under pseudonyms — described having had access to unimaginable riches in Mexico. They said the Twins showered them with red roses by the dozens, 10-carat diamond wedding rings and getaways at luxury resorts in Puerto Vallarta. They lived in a mountaintop estate with a private zoo including horses, monkeys and a tiger cub.

In the book, the wives said their husbands amassed a fortune made of “dirty money with a trail of bodies behind it.”

Still, federal authorities who worked on the case said the Flores brothers didn’t personally take part in the violence, believing it was bad for business and even deciding not to retaliate against a Chicago drug dealer who had kidnapped one of them for ransom.

Read Jan. 28, 2018, Sun-Times report

Click here to read the Jan. 28, 2018, Sun-Times report ‘How a West Side drug bust led the feds to El Chapo.’
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