El Chapo case: Chicago ‘cartel wives’ traveled overseas to J.Lo Las Vegas concert with drug money, feds say

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After Chicago cocaine kingpins Pedro Flores and Margarito Flores were arrested in 2008 for their affairs with Sinaloa drug cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, their wives took lavish trips to the Caribbean and in Europe who were paid with wads of alleged drug money they received in the mail, according to a court document.

Vivianna Lopez and Valerie Gaytan used drug money for travel in 2018 and 2019, flying to Las Vegas for a Jennifer Lopez concert and to the Turks and Caicos Islands, Dubai, Greece and Italy, said a federal postal inspector in an affidavit for a 2019 search warrant that has only now been made public.

The money order was for a priority parcel post with a return address for the mother of one of the wives of the Flores twins. The two women are only identified as “Spouse 1” and “Spouse 2” in the affidavit.

In June, Lopez, wife of Pedro Flores, and Gaytan, wife of Margarito Flores, were charged in Chicago federal court with helping to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money on a dozen years, starting in 2008.

The money paid for schools for the twins’ children, Lopez’s student loans and an exercise bike, according to the indictment.

The affidavit provides more details on how the wives spent the money their husbands are believed to have embezzled after turning themselves in to authorities in 2008 and agreeing to become informants against Guzman.

In exchange for their cooperation with prosecutors, the Flores twins received relatively light sentences of 14 years in prison.

Guzman – against whom Pedro Flores testified during his 2018 trial in New York – was sentenced to life.

According to the October 15, 2019 affidavit for the search warrant, one of the Flores brothers’ wives spent between $20,000 and $30,000 in cash per trip, including airfare and hotel accommodations. hotel for groups of people.

A man in a van delivered the money to an anonymous travel agency that booked the trips. A witness told authorities the cash was rolled up and “smelled funny,” likely because it was near drugs, the affidavit said.

On July 19, 2018, customs officers met the brides after their plane landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport from the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Cartel Wives, a true story of deadly decisions, unwavering love and the overthrow of El Chapo” by Vivianna Lopez and Valerie Gaytan.
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One woman had five cell phones, two of them with Chicago area codes. The other was carrying a sheet of notebook paper that appeared to total tens of thousands of dollars from at least four packages, according to the affidavit.

According to postal records, 82 packages were delivered to addresses for one of the spouses between 2017 and 2019 and 55 to the home of the other spouse.

A separate search warrant was executed on September 27, 2019, after a drug-sniffing dog alerted to a package addressed to one of the spouses. The package contained $5,000 in cash and a $500 gift card with a receipt from a Walgreens store in the 4300 block of South Archer Avenue. Security footage showed a relative of the woman sent that package and others, according to the affidavit.

Lawyers for Lopez and Gaytan did not respond to messages seeking comment.

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