Calling them the “most significant drug dealers” he’d dealt with in two decades on the bench, U.S. District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo sentenced twins Pedro and Margarito Flores to 14 years each in prison. The sentence was handed down for smuggling at least 71 tons of cocaine and heroin and nearly $2 billion in cash from 2005 to 2008 for Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. The Flores brothers served as the control point for the drug trafficking organization in the Windy City for years. They would have received life sentence had they not agreed to fully cooperate with U.S. authorities to bring down major players in the cartel.
The Flores twins have already served six years in protective custody due to the constant threat of assassination for working as informants, according to an Associated Press report. Even their two attorneys appeared in court without their names being entered for the record for safety reasons.
The Chicago natives built their drug empire using a system of couriers and associates whom they trusted to drive loads in vehicles outfitted with secret compartments and hydraulic trapdoors, according to court records. “The drugs were often picked up in broad daylight, in supermarket parking lots and outside of South Loop dollar stores and then kept in innocuous-looking stash houses from Chicago to Aurora,” per the AP story. During this time, the notorious former Sinaloa Federation kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán was their main drug supplier in Mexico. His lieutenants helped the cartel coordinate shipments of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico using submarines, speedboats, and amphibious vessels to avoid law enforcement.
The level of cooperation and access provided by the Flores brothers is considered by investigators to be unprecedented. The brothers were able to meet with Sinaloa operatives in a mountaintop compound in Mexico and secretly record phone calls with Guzmán. U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said the Flores twins’ help has led to charges against 62 people, including El Chapo, and the seizure of 11 tons of cocaine, more than 500 pounds of methamphetamines and about 170 pounds of heroin.
Prosecutors will continue to use information provided by the brothers to investigate the Sinaloa Federation’s U.S.-based operations, and the two men will remain in protective custody and likely enter witness protection after their release in six years.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about these issues in her new book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.