In El Chapo fallout, older brother of twin Chicago drug traffickers sentenced for helping launder their money

Armando Flores helped raise his younger teenage brothers Margarito and Pedro Flores in Little Village when their father moved to Mexico.

But Armando went to prison for drug dealing in the late 1990s and his twin brothers were on their own. Soon, they built an international trafficking business that dwarfed Armando’s operation by forming a partnership with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, then the iron-fisted boss of the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico.

On Wednesday, Armando Flores faced a reckoning for handling the proceeds of his younger brothers’ booming business which, they’ve admitted, imported tons of cocaine into Chicago and other parts of the United States from 2005 to 2008.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly sentenced Armando Flores to “time served” for the 19 months he spent in jail on charges of laundering his brothers’ drug money after they were arrested in late 2008.

Flores, who was wearing a gray suit, choked up as he apologized to his family and the court for his crimes.

“I am not the man I used to be,” he said, telling the judge he now prefers a night of watching Netflix with his wife to the “fast life.”

Armando Flores collected millions of dollars from the twins’ customers and dispersed the money to their family members, prosecutors said.

Later, in 2012, his sister-in-law Valerie Gaytan drove a U-Haul van to Texas where she delivered $2.3 million in drug proceeds to Armando Flores, who stashed the cash under the porch of his home and doled it out to her.

Armando Flores, along with the twins’ wives and some other relatives, helped hide money from the government for about a decade, prosecutors said.

Gaytan, who’s married to Margarito Flores, and Vivianna Lopez, the wife of Pedro Flores, were the most culpable people in the scheme to hide and spend their husbands’ hidden drug money, said Andrew Erskine, an assistant U.S. attorney. The women have each been sentenced to 42 months in prison.

Erskine noted that Armando Flores — unlike the twins’ wives —  cooperated with the federal money-laundering investigation. Erskine also said Flores held legitimate jobs before he was arrested in that case in 2021. One of his jobs was driving a Lyft ride-share car, court records show.

Flores’ attorney, Alexandria Miceli, said her client, who was born in Mexico, is a “family man” who faces the possibility of deportation, although the government has said it will try to help him stay in the United States. Several times in the past, local law enforcement officials have tried to have Flores deported but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration intervened, Miceli said.

The twins weren’t criminally charged in the money-laundering case. They’ve both served their 14-year prison terms for drug trafficking — a lenient sentence they got in exchange for cooperating against El Chapo, who’s serving a life sentence in Colorado.

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