A Chicago cocaine trafficker on Tuesday detailed the U.S. operations of accused Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s cartel.
Pedro Flores, who ran a drug trafficking operation with twin brother Margarito Flores in Chicago before working with Guzman and later cooperating with the government in 2008, described his role as a key operative under Guzman for the Sinaloa Cartel.
Flores testified that Chicago was a pivotal location for Guzman’s operation to move tons of cocaine and heroin in the United States.
“It’s practically centred in the middle of our country, which makes it convenient,” he said. “You’re practically halfway to everywhere.”
While working with Guzman, Flores and his brother were entrusted with moving drugs hidden behind false walls in trucks to cities such as New York and Washington.
He and his brother agreed to cooperate with authorities in 2008 after a conflict between Guzman’s group and another cartel they moved drugs for left them fearing for their lives.
They agreed to secretly record cartel members in conversations, including one in which Guzman can be heard negotiating a lower price on a shipment.
Flores said he first encountered Guzman after being abducted in a meeting with his previous cocaine supplier in Mexico, where he and his brother fled to escape a charges in a drug case in Milwaukee in 2004.
The brothers were held captive for about two weeks before being released and sent to one of Guzmán’s alleged cartel co-bosses, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Gonzalez, who informed them the Sinaloa Cartel was impressed with their ability to distribute cocaine in the United States.
“Any idiot could sell drugs in Mexico. It’s very difficult to sell drugs like that in the U.S.,” Zambada said, according to Flores. “From now on, I’m going to give you some work.”
Before working for the cartel, Flores met with Guzman, who began the meeting by making fun of Flores’ cut-off jean shorts.
“With all that money, I couldn’t afford the rest of the pants?” Flores said, recalling Guzman’s joke.
Flores also said he saw a naked man chained to a tree as punishment when he first arrived to meet Guzman and saw the alleged cartel leader appear to order an assassination in response to the seizure of one of the cartel’s cocaine shipments.