When a guy has the power and means to build a tunnel out of prison, it’s best to not snitch on him. Such a move would mean certain death for the snitch who did. That is the situation that Pedro and Margarito Flores from Chicago where they were high ranking members of the Latin Kings. Information gleaned from the twin brothers led to the indictment of the infamous (and recently escaped) Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and more than 50 soldiers in his Sinaloa cartel in 2009. The Flores Twins are now serving 14 years in prison under protective custody. El Chapo and the Sinaloa cartel are responsible for 80% of the drugs (heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana) surging through the streets of Chicago. The Flores twins orchestrated the smuggling of 71 tons of cocaine and heroin into the city and close to $2 billion in cash to Mexico. Without their cooperation with the feds against El Chapo and Sinaloa, they would be serving life sentences.
Drugs and crime have been a part of the Flores twins’ lives for their entire lives, which started and lived in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. Their father, Margarito Flores, Sr. was a Mexican drug smuggler and was convicted in 1981 when he sold 11 pounds of heroin to an undercover agent. The twins first ran afoul of the law at the age of 5 when they caught shooting a gun out of a car. When they were 10, law enforcement raided the twins’ home and found $190,000 worth of marijuana. As they got older, the Flores twins joined the ranks of the Latin Kings and went on to be established players in the dope game by the 90’s, according to law enforcement.
The twins reportedly hooked up with El Chapo in 2005. They had fled from Chicago to Mexico after being indicted in Milwaukee in 2004. They became El Chapo’s main connection in Chicago, which is the supply point for international distribution to Detroit; Milwaukee; Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Cincinnati and Columbus, OH; New York; Los Angeles and Vancouver. The twins would have couriers receive shipments coming in various vehicles with secret compartments containing kilos upon kilos of work. Deliveries were made in broad daylight in public places, which were taken to one of their numerous stash houses from Chicago to Aurora. In 2007, the Flores twins invested $600,000 into a furniture exporting business run by their main connection to the cartel, El Chapo’s childhood friend and lieutenant, Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez. The business was a front so that drugs could be shipped by rail, hidden in fake walls in box cars.
However, under pressure from the authorities, Pedro and Margarito Flores decided to flip on El Chapo, the Sinaloa cartel and others. The twins started recording phone conversations that they had with El Chapo and talks with Sinaloa leaders in the Mexican mountains. In November 2008, the Flores twins recorded a conversation with El Chapo as they negotiated a new deal for heroin. Pedro got El Chapo to drop the price of the shipment and the twins arranged for 40 kilos to be shipped every month. Later, El Chapo had an associate instruct them on where to send the $1 million cash payment. Aside from the recordings, the Flores twins put the feds up on El Chapo’s game. They told agents that El Chapo had a fleet of 747 jets with all of the seats removed. The jets would be flown to South America filled with clothes and other goods to appear as missionary drop offs. The jets would return, stuffed with up to 12,000 kilos (14 tons) of cocaine and corrupt Mexican officials allowed it.
Information from the twins also led to the downfall of Vicente Zambada-Niebla, who oversaw a billion dollar drug organization for his father, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who ran a faction within Sinaloa. They also cut deals with rivals of the Sinaloa cartel, a move that could’ve received the death penalty if either side got hip. Furthermore, in an extremely rare move, the twins sold out their own workers and customers, setting them up on fake drug transactions with the boys.
The twins have been in protective custody for about six years now. Prosecutors grew suspicious of them still having dope in the streets after Pedro bought a Bentley for his wife. It is known that at least one shipment of 276 kilos went undetected by law enforcement. It has also been said that the twins have millions of dollars buried in various backyards in Chicago. The feds only seized $4 million in cash from them.
The Flores twins aren’t the only ones in danger. Their family members were given new identities and $300,000 to sustain them for the years to come. Their father, Margarito, Sr. took a trip to Mexico, against orders not to from his sons and law enforcement. He was kidnaped and is presumed dead. A note was found near the spot he was abducted, saying that the twins were next.
The twins pleaded guilty in 2012 behind closed doors. During their sentencing in January, security was beefed up at the courthouse, and bomb-sniffing dogs circulated the premises. Their release from prison in 14 years by no means indicates freedom for Pedro and Margarito. They will be marked men for the rest of their natural lives, living in fear of El Chapo and his Sinaloa minions. Nevertheless, they have earned a reputation among law enforcement as the most important snitches in the history of the “War on Drugs.”