Cartel wife sentenced to prison in El Chapo-linked money laundering scheme

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff and Christine Tressel WLS logo
Monday, July 17, 2023
Cartel wife sentenced to prison in money laundering scheme
Mia Flores pleaded for no prison time, even after admitting she illegally spent a small fortune in drug money.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Spouses and relatives of El Chapo's top drug operatives in Chicago are being sentenced for their roles in crimes the government says span a decade.

Mia Flores, also known as Vivianna Lopez, tearfully begged for mercy from a federal judge Monday.

Flores pleaded for no prison time, even after admitting she illegally spent a small fortune in drug money made by her husband, Pedro, who turned on his boss, El Chapo. While Pedro was away in jail, the money flowed and now, Ms. Flores is going to prison. This is the first sentencing in a lucrative laundering scheme funded by Chicago cartel profits.

SEE ALSO | El Chapo lieutenant Felipe 'The Engineer' Cabrera Sarabia asks Chicago judge for mercy

Flores was sentenced for laundering drug money made by her trafficker husband-turned-government informant, Pedro Flores. He was one of the infamous Flores twins. Pedro and his brother, Margarito, were the Chicago tag team for the Sinaloa Cartel, owned and operated by Joaquin El Chapo Guzman. El Chapo is now serving a life sentence himself.

After the Flores twins flipped on Chapo, made secret recordings with the kingpin and helped put him away, their wives became mini-celebrities. Mia and Olivia Flores were branded as wives of the cartel, doing interviews and writing a book about being married into a drug mob.

When their husbands were in prison, authorities said the wives got greedy, spending $869,000 on vacations, cars, clothing, private school tuition and a new business start-up: ironically, a cleaning firm.

READ MORE | 'El Chapo' Guzman's wife transferred to halfway house in California ahead of release

In court documents, the government asked that Ms. Flores receive at least a nine-year sentence, while she requested probation and strict home confinement.

Judge Martin Kennelly sentenced her to even less than that: three-and-a-half years.

"The judge obviously saw a sympathetic case here, at least in some respects," said ABC7 Chief Legal Analyst and former Chicago Federal Prosecutor Gil Soffer.

Soffer said Flores' sentence is no kiss on the cheek, and that Flores didn't help her case by making a spectacle of being a cartel wife.

"None of that helped, putting herself out there, making the most essentially of her fame as a cartel wife. That can only hurt at a sentencing before federal judge and almost certainly hurt here too. Although, the biggest issue for her was simply, she did not return the money that she was supposed to return," Soffer said.

RELATED | Chicago 'Wives of the Cartel' plead guilty in El Chapo-linked case

Mia Flores has to report to prison in October. She is receiving a longer term than even El Chapo's wife, who was handed just three years.

Chapo's wife helped run his empire and aided his escape in 2014.

Flores' aunt, who was brought into the scheme, was also sentenced Monday. She received one year in prison.

The other cartel wife, Olivia Flores, will be sentenced in late September.