WASHINGTON—Twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores, regarded as Chicago’s most significant drug traffickers who rose from street level dealers to the highest echelons of the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel and a rival cartel, were each sentenced to 14 years, according to officials.
The brothers provided “unparalleled cooperation” to the Drug Enforcement Administration, officials said.
The federal judge noted that the brothers cooperation resulted in a lesser sentence other than life behind bars.
Tuesday’s sentencing marked the Flores brothers’ first public court appearance since they entered protective federal custody in 2008. Their August 2012 guilty pleas to a narcotics distribution conspiracy were unsealed in November 2014.
Authorities also announced the unsealing of an an expanded superseding 2009 indictment where the Flores brothers and leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel were initially indicted.
The new indictments announced Tuesday add significant new defendants including two alleged cartel money laundering associates who have been arrested, officials.
Sinaloa Cartel leader under Joaquin Guzman Loera, 60, also known as “Chapo,” and Ismael Zambada Garcia, 67, aka “Mayo.”
“The persistent determination of DEA special agents and leadership in Chicago, coupled with the efforts of those in DEA offices worldwide, is having a significant impact on the global operations of the Sinaloa Cartel,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois.
Adding, “This case put an end to the Flores brothers’ Chicago hub for transshipment of cartel narcotics nationwide. Our investigation and prosecution of cartel members is continuing,”
Flores Brothers Sentencing
In sentencing of the 33-year-old Flores brothers, U.S. District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo said that but for the Flores brothers’ cooperation, he would have imposed a life sentence and noted that because of the peril their ongoing cooperation poses to them and their families, they effectively “are going to leave here with a life sentence.”
If the city of Chicago had walls, Judge Castillo said the brothers’ operation “devastated the walls of this city,” adding that their operation “became just a highway of drugs into this city.”
But, Judge Castillo added, “it is never too late to cooperate,” which is what earned the Flores brothers a significant discount in their sentences.
Judge Castillo ordered the Flores brothers to forfeit more than $3.66 million that was seized from them and a sport utility vehicle.
In addition, more than $400,000 worth of assorted jewelry, several luxury automobiles and smaller amounts of cash and electronics equipment were seized and forfeited in separate administrative proceedings by the DEA.
The brothers left behind millions of dollars in additional assets in Mexico after they began cooperating.
The judge also placed each of the brothers on court supervision for five years when they are released from prison after serving at least 85 percent of their sentences, authorities said.
Here are the facts and circumstances surrounding this case, according to authorities.
Between 2005 and 2008, the Flores brothers and their crew operated a Chicago-based wholesale distribution cell for the Sinaloa Cartel and a rival drug trafficking organization controlled by Arturo Beltran Leyva, receiving on average 3,300 to 4,400 pounds of cocaine per month.
Approximately half of this cocaine was distributed to the Flores’ customers in the Chicago area, while the other half was distributed to customers in Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Vancouver, among other cities.
In total, the brothers admitted to transferring of about $1.8 billion of drug proceeds from the United States to Mexico, primarily through bulk cash smuggling.
Flores Brothers Cooperation
At great personal risk to themselves and their families, officials said the Flores brothers began cooperating with the government in October 2008 and recorded conversations, including two directly with Chapo Guzman.
Their cooperation resulted in indictments against leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyva organization, as well as the complete dismantling of the brothers’ own Chicago-based criminal enterprise.
In late 2008 alone, their cooperation facilitated approximately a dozen seizures in the Chicago area totaling hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin and more than $15 million in cash, as well as the seizure of more than 3,500 pounds of cocaine in the Los Angeles area that was bound for Chicago.
Further cooperation by the Flores brothers and members of their dismantled crew resulted in the convictions of more than a dozen of their high-level customers who received on average 100 pounds to more than 200 pounds of cocaine per month.
“While not as high-profile as the cartel figures, the successful prosecution of these defendants made a very real difference in combating the scourge of drug trafficking that fuels so much violence and the destruction of communities in Chicago,” said the prosecutors in recommending a sentence at or near the low end of the agreed 10- to 16-year sentencing range.
“The Flores brothers (and their families) will live the rest of their lives in danger of being killed in retribution,” prosecutors stated in a sentencing memo. “The barbarism of the cartels is legend, with a special place reserved for those who cooperate.”
In 2009, the brothers’ father was kidnapped and presumed killed when he reentered Mexico despite the U.S. government warning him not to do so.
The Eighth Superseding Indictment
The eighth superseding indictment that was unsealed Tuesday charges a total of nine defendants including Chapo Guzman, Mayo Zambada
Guzman’s son, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, 31, aka “Alfredillo” and “Jags,” each of whom was among the initial group of co-defendants in the original indictment in 2009.
Zambada and Salazar are fugitives, while Guzman remains in Mexican custody following his arrest last February.
Co-defendant, Jesus Raul Beltran Leon, 31, aka “Trevol” and “Chuy Raul,” was arrested in Mexico this past November and remains in Mexican custody.
The remaining co-defendants, all fugitives:
Heriberto Zazueta Godoy, 54, aka “Capi Beto”
Victor Manuel Felix Beltran, 27, aka “Lic Vicc”
Hector Miguel Valencia Ortega, 33, aka “Mv”
Jorge Mario Valenzuela Verdugo, 32, aka “Choclos”
Guadalupe Fernandez Valencia, 54, aka “Don Julio” and “Julia.”
This indictment alleges that all nine defendants conspired between May 2005 and December 2014 to import and distribute narcotics and to commit money laundering.
They allegedly conspired to smuggle large quantities of cocaine from Central and South America, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana from Mexico to the United States and through Chicago for distribution nationwide.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of $2 billion.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control announced the designation of Felix Beltran, who is Salazar’s brother-in-law, as a Foreign Narcotics Kingpin, which means harsher sentences.
A second designation against Alfonso Limon Sanchez, an alleged Sinaloa Cartel associate under federal indictment with Zambada and others in San Diego.
Other alleged cartel leaders, including Chicago defendants Guzman, Zambada, Salazar and Godoy, were previously designated drug kingpins.
Charges brought in earlier versions of this primary indictment remain pending against three additional co-defendants:
Felipe Cabrera Sarabia, 44, who is in custody in Mexico
German Olivares, age unknown and a fugitive
Edgar Manuel Valencia Ortega, 27, aka “Fox”
Hector Miguel Valencia, Ortega’s brother, who was arrested last year in the United States and is in federal custody in Chicago.
In addition to the Flores brothers, Alfredo Vasquez Hernandez, 59, pleaded guilty and was sentenced last November to 22 years in prison.
Two other co-defendants, Mayo Zambada’s son, Vicente Zambada Niebla, 39, and Tomas Arevalo Renteria, 45, have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing in Chicago.
Altogether, 18 defendants have been charged in the primary case in Chicago.
Three New Indictments
Those 18 are among a total of 62 defendants, most of whom have been convicted and sentenced, who were indicted in nearly two dozen related cases in Chicago since 2009.
Two new defendants, Alvaro Anguiano Hernandez, 38, aka “Panda,” and Jorge Martin Torres, 38, were arrested separately in the U.S. in November and are facing separate indictments here alleging they were high-level money laundering associates of the Sinaloa Cartel and participated in money laundering conspiracies.
Anguiano Hernandez’s indictment seeks forfeiture of $950,000.
Torres allegedly conspired to launder in excess of $300,000 of drug proceeds from Mexico to the United States to purchase, refurbish, and transfer from Ohio to Mexico, a 1982 Cessna Turbo 210 to promote the cartel’s alleged narcotics conspiracy.
His indictment seeks forfeiture of $1 million.
A third separate indictment announced today charges Venancio Covarrubias, 26, aka “Benny,” of Elgin, who was arrested last October, with being a high-level cartel customer in the Chicago area.
In September 2013, law enforcement, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Laredo, Texas, seized more than 300 pounds of cocaine that was allegedly destined for a warehouse in Elgin leased by Covarrubias.
The cocaine, wrapped in 118 brick-shaped packages, was hidden in a tractor-trailer containing a shipment of fresh tomatoes from a fictitious Mexican business called Tadeo Produce.
The charges allege that during the prior year, Covarrubias wire transferred drug proceeds to Tadeo Produce while receiving narcotics disguised as tomato shipments. His indictment seeks forfeiture of $2.89 million.
The money laundering conspiracy charges against Anguiano Hernandez, Torres and Covarrubias carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, or an alternate fine totaling twice the amount of the funds involved in illegal activity.
The narcotics importation and distribution conspiracy charges against Covarrubias and each defendant in the primary indictment carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Total Seizures Since 2008
Overall, the Chicago-based investigation of the Sinaloa Cartel has resulted in seizures of approximately $30.8 million, approximately 11 tons of cocaine, 265 kilograms of methamphetamine and 78 kilograms of heroin.
Law Enforcement in Chicago has worked closely with federal agents and prosecutors in San Diego to target the senior leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel.
This partnership yielded the prosecutions here as well as 14 indictments announced this month in San Diego against 60 alleged Sinaloa leaders, lieutenants and associates, including Zambada, two of his four sons and another of Guzman’s sons.Warning: file_get_contents(): https:// wrapper is disabled in the server configuration by allow_url_fopen=0 in /hermes/bosnacweb02/bosnacweb02af/b360/ipg.sbnotebookcom/wp-content/themes/goodnews5/framework/functions/posts_share.php on line 151 Warning: file_get_contents(https://plusone.google.com/_/+1/fastbutton?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cjnotebook.com%2Fchicago-twins-became-dea-snitches-drug-cartels-spared-life-sentences%2F): failed to open stream: no suitable wrapper could be found in /hermes/bosnacweb02/bosnacweb02af/b360/ipg.sbnotebookcom/wp-content/themes/goodnews5/framework/functions/posts_share.php on line 151