Federal prosecutors have indicted Mia and Olivia Flores, the wives of twin brothers who became key informants in the case against drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. In total, five family members of Pedro and Margarito Flores face new charges of allegedly stashing and spending drug profits.
The Flores twin brothers had previously turned over millions to the government but as the I-Team reported last year, prosecutors suspected the family had hidden away even more.
The new multi-count indictment charges the Flores family members with laundering some of the duo’s drug proceeds for more than a decade. Federal authorities are seeking more than a half a million dollars in the case.
In the indictment, it’s alleged that the scheme included transfers of about $5,000 into a Bureau of Prisons account for one brother while he was incarcerated, more than $165,000 to private schools for their children, more than $3,100 for an exercise bike for Mia Flores and more than $100,000 in world travel expenses.
“The Justice Department clearly signaled a year ago that there was more out there to be found, they were obviously in the middle of investigating it. Now, we see the outcome of that investigation: there was a lot of money that was being laundered,” former federal prosecutor and ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer said.
Soffer said the new spouse charges should not have any bearing on the conviction of El Chapo. But, he says new allegations of hiding drug money does show how perilous relationships can be between informants and the government.
“It’s impossible to stop things like this from happening with criminal informants. That’s the nature of the criminal informant. There are controls that the U.S. Attorney’s Office puts in place, meetings with their informants are closely monitored, any evidence of wrongdoing is investigated and it’s disclosed to the defense if it’s known about,” Soffer said.
Two of the family members charged, Laura Lopez and Bianca Finnegan, pleaded not guilty in their first court hearing Wednesday afternoon.