The money was stashed in a secret compartment in her car door. Silvia Flores, a middle-aged woman, was on the Gateway of the Americas Bridge, trying to cross from Laredo into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. She was stopped, and in her secret compartment was more than $100,000. The 2009 incident didn't bring her down, but it was just the beginning of her troubles.
Flores' phone was tapped, and law enforcement listened in as she coordinated the transportation of meth, heroin and cocaine from Mexico into Dallas for the next two years. It was called Operation Nemesis. During those two years, according to court documents, Flores and her eight conspirators made more than $20 million.
The first incident in Flores' downfall happened in April 2011. Texas state troopers pulled over a black SUV and a gray F-150. The drivers were together. As the troopers searched the SUV, they found a suitcase with 35 kilos of cocaine.
Several days after the suitcase was found in the SUV, Flores told another woman to cross the border at Laredo. The woman brought a suitcase with drugs across the border. Then, Flores' daughter took over. She and a friend drove the suitcase up to Dallas, where they met Flores and began to distribute the drugs.
Four days after her daughter arrived in the city, Flores transported about $80,000 to her supplier in Mexico.
In May, the supplier gave Flores nearly 50 kilos of meth and a kilo of heroin. On the way to Dallas, at a checkpoint on Interstate 35, law enforcement found the drugs in the back of Flores' car. Later, as law enforcement listened, Flores tried to prove to her supplier that the drugs had only been recovered by law enforcement, not stolen.
In September, one of Flores' men pulled into the I-35 border checkpoint at mile marker 29. He was driving a white Pontiac Fiero, a sports car from the 1980s. In the trunk was more than 20 grams of meth. The agents began to search the car.
They eventually made their way to the car's trunk, and that's when the driver seems to have lost his nerve. He put his foot on the gas pedal and drove up the road.
He didn't get very far. He crashed into the fence on the side of the road. He pushed open the car door and made his way on foot through the brush. He wasn't captured until almost a year later, when Flores and her other conspirators were arrested.
Last week, Flores was sentenced to nearly 28 years in prison for being the ringleader. Five other conspirators, including her daughter, also received sentences. Three of the people indicted are Mexican citizens and are expected to be deported, according to an FBI press release.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.