Snitches, in the common vernacular, or informants, in the more traditional,
have arguably become a virtual routine presence in criminal cases nationwide.
The controversial practice of incentivizing witness testimony has come
under recent scrutiny as numerous cases in which snitches had their sentences
reduced in exchange for their testimony have been undermined by DNA evidence.
Many courts and legal commentators have acknowledged the problem, and wish
to see the practice done away with. Proponents of the government's
use of snitches are arguing that a case which occurred a few days ago
shows the system works. This week, two snitches, identical twin brothers,
Pedro and Margarito Flores, were sentenced in a Federal Courtroom in Chicago
after providing incredibly valuable evidence critical in the government's
effort to dismantle Mexico's infamous Sinaloa drug cartel.
Originally facing life sentences, the formerly, jewelry loving, exotic
car driving, twins were sentenced to an amazingly low 14 years by Chief
United States District Judge Ruben Castillo, who noted that their cooperation
with federal prosecutors was the only thing that saved them from life
sentences in federal prison. Judge Castillo added, a life sentence of
sorts would in fact be served by the twins, acknowledging the fact that
the informants would have to look over their shoulders for the rest of
their lives - the reality being that the Sinaloa drug cartel ruthlessly
exacts revenge against any snitches that dare betray them. The brothers,
who are eligible for release in approximately 6 years (because of credit
for time served awaiting sentencing) went to great lengths to assist the
prosecution in this case by recording high level cartel leaders, as well
as other acts, which had they been discovered, would have resulted in
their deaths - almost certainly, in a very brutal and painful manner.
Their father was kidnapped when word of the twins cooperation reached the
drug cartel. He has not been seen since the kidnapping and is presumed
to have endured an agonizing death. The twins decision to become snitches
led to the indictments of over 50 leaders in the Sinaloa drug cartel.
Federal prosecutors are touting the case as an example of the good that
can result by cooperating with the government. Chicago-based U.S. Attorney
Zachary Fardon stated that the case should demonstrate, "You can
right some of what you did wrong...by helping the government." It
is doubtful that the father of the twins has - or far more likely, had
- as rosy an outlook as Mr. Fardon, as to the decision of his sons to
cooperate with the government against the Sinaloa cartel.