DEA, Chicago Crime Commission to meet on Chicago gangs and Mexican cartels

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Money and drugs seized from a Mexican cartel in Chicago in 2004. | Sun-Times photo

A conference will be held Friday to discuss the growing influence of Mexican drug cartels on Chicago’s gangs, the Associated Press is reporting.

Organized by the Chicago Crime Commission and the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Tri-State Regional Gang Summit will gather law enforcement leaders from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin to discuss strategies for tackling gang violence and the role of cartels in regional drug trafficking.

The impact of the cartels on Chicago has been well-documented. In 2011, the Sun-Times reported on Chicago’s ‘Scarface’: Joaquin ‘Chapo’ Guzman.

The 5-foot-6 Joaquin Chapo Guzman rules the Sinaloa Cartel, which allegedly smuggles marijuana and other narcotics in planes, trains, ships, trucks, cars and even submarines. … The operations the feds have busted in Wisconsin and northern Illinois are proof Mexican cartels will grow marijuana anywhere they can to ensure an uninterrupted supply of marijuana makes it their best-selling markets, including Chicago. … In recent years, Chicago and Atlanta have become key transportation hubs for the cartels, said Jack Riley, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s office in Chicago. Chapo Guzman, now that Osama is dead, is in my opinion the most dangerous criminal in the world and probably the most wealthy criminal in the world, he said. Guzman was in the Forbes Top 100 most wealthy people in the world. His ability to produce revenue off marijuana, we’ve never seen it before. We’ve never seen a criminal organization so well-focused and with such business sense, and so vicious and violent.

Guzman was named Public Enemy No. 1 last year, the first since Al Capone.

“We know that the majority of the violent acts that occur here in Chicago are gang-related,” DEA boss Jack Riley said at the time. “We know that, for the most part, the gangs make their money, fight over their turf, shoot each other in defense of the drug trade. And we do know that ‘Chapo’ Guzman and Sinaloa supply the majority of narcotics available to the city and to the region.”

The Chicago Reader recently ran an extensive series on the city’s booming heroin trade and a companion piece from WBEZ traced the drug supply chain from Mexico to Chicago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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