From Chicago Little Village to cartel big time: Flores vs. Chapo in NYC courtroom

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Flores twins were inseparable in Chicago's Little Village, even as they learned the cocaine trade at age 7 from their dope-dealing dad.
By age 17, Margarito and Pedro Flores were jointly overseeing the mega-profitable cocaine franchise in Chicago on behalf of billionaire Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

On Tuesday in a Brooklyn courtroom federal prosecutors needed only one of the twin brothers to recount their relationship with El Chapo, who is on trial for drug dealing, murder conspiracy, and a host of other charges.

Pedro Flores (L) and Margarito Flores (R)

As the ABC7 I-Team first reported a year ago that he would be, Pedro Flores was a star witness for the government in its big case, describing in graphic details how they toiled in El Chapo's trenches, moving unimaginable amounts of illicit drugs to Chicago and beyond.

Between 2005 and 2008 Pedro Flores testified that he and his brother imported 38 tons of cocaine from Chapo and his Sinaloa cartel. Flores told the federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, that he returned $800 million in cash proceeds back to the Mexican cartel.

Ten years ago last month, the Flores brothers decided that their drug dealing days might not have a good ending and decided they would both cooperate with U.S. investigators attempting to bring down the kingpin.

"Cooperators are our life blood and sometimes you have to cut deals with some unsavory folks," said former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago Thomas Shakeshaft.

Shakeshaft was on a team in Mexico for secret meetings that resulted in the Flores twins flipping, working undercover, even recording conversations with El Chapo.

Among Sinaloa's top distributors, the Flores twins had financed El Chapo's ruthless business and lavish lifestyle: his drug deals by plane, boat and submarine; his gold guns adorned with diamonds; his statuesque women; his income in the billions; his jailbreaks, all great escapes; even his recapture resembled a Hollywood movie.

But his track record also includes hundreds of murders, according to federal investigators. Prosecutors in New York said they had planned to link him directly to 33 killings.

That reputation and direct ties to a burgeoning drug market in Chicago, resulted in 2013 in El Chapo becoming Chicago's first "Public Enemy Number One" since gangster Al Capone.

Pedro Flores and his brother were trusted by El Chapo, who's name translates as "Shorty."

Former federal prosecutor and ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer said that there would be no more crucial witnesses in the case the Flores twins.

"These witnesses are important to the case they're really close to him. They are senior in the organization," said Soffer last month in an I-Team preview of the trial. "The jury is going to want to hear from people in the know and he were the closest El Chapo who he is how we operate it and what he did."

The Flores twins pleaded guilty in their own Chicago case and are currently serving 14-year prison sentences while in witness protection.

After serving their time, the Flores twins will likely spend the rest of their lives in the witness protection program; different names, away from each other and their families.

And El Chapo, if convicted of the primary charge against him - running a continuing criminal enterprise - is looking at a mandatory life sentence.
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