50 in Illinois, nearby among 600 busted in crackdown on drug cartel supplying Chicago
The DEA led a six-month international operation against the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which has grown more powerful in the Chicago area after El Chapo was caught.
Federal authorities said Wednesday they’ve made more than 600 arrests —about 50 of them in Illinois and surrounding states —in a crackdown on a vicious Mexican drug cartel that’s a major drug supplier to the Chicago area.
The Drug Enforcement Administration led a six-month international operation against the Jalisco New Generation cartel.
The cartel has become more powerful in the Chicago area over the past two years, according to a DEA intelligence report in November.
Jalisco New Generation and other cartels continue to smuggle large quantities of heroin and fentanyl into Chicago, the DEA report said. The DEA also is watching for an uptick in cocaine shipments to Chicago based on increased levels of cocaine cultivation in South America, according to the report.
Jalisco New Generation has elbowed its way into the Sinaloa cartel’s near-monopoly over supplying illicit drugs to Chicago in recent years as a result of Sinaloa’s infamous boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman being prosecuted and imprisoned last year.
Federal prosecutors in Chicago were responsible for much of the evidence used against Guzman during his trial in New York.
His son and daughter have been arrested and are in federal custody in the United States on charges related to the cartel’s activities.
In Chicago, Diego Pineda-Sanchez was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison in 2018 for laundering money for El Mencho and other drug kingpins.
Pineda-Sanchez collected money from El Mencho’s customers, converted the cash into scrap gold from Chicago jewelry stores and shipped the metal to Florida. Money from selling the melted gold was then wired to the cartel in Mexico, the feds say.
Other Mexican drug cartels active in the Chicago area include Guerreros Unidos, Beltran-Leyva and Gulf, according to the DEA.