The world's most notorious drug lord just escaped from prison -- here's how his cocaine flowed through the US

Pedro and Margarito FloresAP Photo/U.S. Marshals ServiceThis undated photo from a Wanted poster released by the US Marshals Service shows Pedro Flores, left, and his twin brother, Margarito Flores.

For the second time in 15 years, Joaquín “El Chapo,” or “Shorty,” Guzmán Loera, escaped from prison. He ran the Sinoloa cartel, arguably the most powerful drug-trafficking organisation in the world.

In 2008, however, twin drug smugglers, Pedro and Margarito Flores, helped put him there.

The two had worked with one of El Chapo’s associates to set up a nearly $US2 billion drug ring that swept across North America. After being caught, they became federal informants in hopes of lesser sentences.

In their testimony, Pedro and Margarito revealed fascinating details about how the Mexican cartel functioned, giving specific locations through North America. 

Business Insider created the map below to show the network in which they operated.

The brothers received the majority of their supply — mostly heroin and cocaine from Mexico — in Chicago and eventually Los Angeles. From there, the drugs spread to about 30 wholesale customers across six other cities: New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Detroit. 
The brothers also had small wholesale bases in Milwaukee and Vancouver, Canada.

Here’s a look at a few of the cities:


The twins drew on their childhood friendships in the Little Village in Chicago neighbourhood to start their minimal trafficking operation, the one they started before going into business with Guzman. 

Little village chicagoGoogle mapsThe location of the Little Village neighbourhood of Chicago.

After that, Chicago became the hub of their drug ring.

From 2000 to 2007, according to their testimony, the brothers’ sources in Mexico primarily delivered cocaine to them in Chicago. And between 2006 and 2008, what they considered “peak distribution,” the brothers coordinated the delivery of between 3,300 and 4,400 pounds of cocaine to their customers there. 

While wholesale value varied, including the location of the shipment, a kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) in Chicago could easily run $US30,000. That’s $US60 million worth of cocaine each month.

Even in 2013, years after the twins flipped and left the game, the Sinaloa cartel still supplied 80% of the heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine flooding the streets of Chicago, according to the DEA. 


In 2005, the brothers were originally indicted here on three counts of conspiring to sell cocaine and one count of trying to conceal financial transactions. They sold tens of millions of dollars to their Milwaukee network of dealers, making their case the largest and most sophisticated one prosecutors there had ever seen.

“Milwaukee is a kind of destination city,” James F. Bohn, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA in Milwaukee, told the Journal Sentinel. “Large traffickers get their drugs from larger cities, which often for us is Chicago. We just work our way up the chain.”

Fearing capture from these charges, Margarito and Pedro fled to Mexico in 2003 and 2004, respectively, where their operation ballooned in size and influence after they made connections to Guzman.

Los Angeles

In 2006, according to their testimony, the brothers expanded their business and began receiving cocaine in Los Angeles, usually in trucks with secret compartments in their roofs.

From there, the drugs travelled north and east.

El chapo guzman

Gerardo Magallon /AFP
This photo from July 10, 1993 shows drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman Loera “el Chapo Guzman” at the Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico, maximum security prison


After fleeing the US, the Flores brothers ran their entire operation from a ranch in Mexico, although authorities still don’t know where.

The entire Sinaloa cartel was reportedly based in Culiacan, Mexico. Authorities believed El Chapo hid there until his arrest in early 2014. The kingpin even constructed an elaborate tunnel network underneath his house for various illicit purposes. El Chapo reportedly used another tunnel to escape from prison.

NOW WATCH: Dramatic Video Of Sea Rescue Off Scotland Right Before Fishing Boat Sinks


NOW WATCH: Why Putin is the most powerful man in the world

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.