“No. I never thought my life was gonna be like this. I – like I said, I came from a wonderful family of law enforcement. I never thought that I would enter in a world of drug trafficking,” Mia Flores said.
“We do not share or real names. We have to constantly hide. We have to constantly remember our lies,” Olivia Flores said.
“You’re sitting here with wigs and classes. And how are you living your everyday lives?”
“I’ve moved several times – just because of the security issue that I’ve been faced with. Like I said, I’ve been hunted,” Olivia said.
“Who’s hunting you?”
“The Mexican Cartel.”
Stepping slightly out of the shadows, Olivia and Mia Flores – not their real names – grew up daughters of Chicago police officers. They are speaking for the first time about their lives on the run and have written a book called Cartel Wives.
The women are married to identical twin brothers, Pedro and Margarito Flores. The brothers rose from being local street dealers in the Windy City to joining Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s drug empire in the U.S.
In 2012, they were each sentenced to 14 years in prison for smuggling 71 tons of cocaine and heroin and $2 billion in cash.
The Flores brothers were flipped by the DEA and key to bringing El Chapo to U.S. justice.
“Your husbands are the principal witnesses at trial.”
“Yes. They were the first ever to ever get Chapo Guzman on a recorded conversation. They’re U.S. citizens. They speak English. They’ve…traffic drugs across the U.S.,” Olivia said.
“They made a lot of money. And my husband and brother-in-law were a big asset to them. They spoke English, they knew the U.S. inside and out, they knew the roads, they knew how to maneuver in the U.S. And that’s something Chapo and his team didn’t know how to do,” Mia said.
“Our husbands – they ran their – they ran their business like a Fortune 500 company. I believe that they’re the ones that…the tunnel between the Cartel world and the streets of Chicago just because, you know, Cartel members in Mexico are not – they don’t trust anyone,” Olivia said.
“So, is it – it almost feels like it’s a large corporation. They have safehouses, they have couriers, they have transportation systems.”
“They had tractor-trailers with compartments that would be able to move drugs from L.A. to Chicago and the money back down to Mexico. So, they were very, very – advanced. And they used to work at McDonald’s, and they picked up that system. You know, they picked up a system where their stash workers would not cross paths with their money counters,” Olivia said.
That’s Jack Riley in action during his 33-year career at the DEA. The just-retired deputy administrator spent more than a decade hunting El Chapo.
“Was it personal for you?”
“Look, I hate the guy. When I was on the border some 10 years ago, slugging it out with what was going on in Juarez, he put a bounty on my head,” Riley said.
“He put a – he put a hit on you?”
“I was a little upset about it ‘cause it was only $100,000, but he put a bounty to have someone cut my head off. So, it was persona with me. I – I think the guy has affected a great deal of my adult life, certainly the last 15 years. And right now, I gotta tell you, I like where I sit and I kinda like where he’s sitting too. I hate the guy that much,” Riley said. “I saw that guy kill thousands of people in Mexico. I was there. I saw it every day.”
“What would you say to the families whose lives were destroyed by those drugs?
“We are very remorseful for the damage that’s been caused,” Olivia said. “Our husbands – they denounced that life, and they tried to take something negative and they tried to dismantle what they helped build and that was bringing Chapo Guzman to a U.S. courtroom.”
“I would say, again, we are very remorseful. And it’s – I understand. I’m a mother. I’m – l love my children, and it could be one of them also. But at the end of the day, we – what our husbands did, they put a dent in the drug trade. And with their cooperation, it brought down many, many Cartel members and big Cartel figures that bring these vast amounts of drugs into the U.S. And we did our part,” Mia said. “We did our part to say ‘I’m sorry,’ and we denounce this life.”