Emboldened, Mexican Cartels Put Down Roots in U.S. Heartland

Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel, led by fugitive Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, boasts such a strong presence in the Windy City that the Chicago Crime Commission has labeled him “Public Enemy No. 1,” an epithet first bestowed on Al Capone.

The Mexican cartels that are the principal source of illicit drugs coming into the United States have managed to extend their tentacles to the U.S. heartland, where they represent a significant threat to public safety, a senior Drug Enforcement Administration agent told Efe on Friday.

The battle against drug traffickers and organized crime was a major theme of President Barack Obama’s just-concluded visit to Mexico.

Mexican cartels have a presence in more than 1,000 U.S. cities, according to the Justice Department.

“Obviously those numbers present some issues … in some sense, certainly that’s going to provide some security issues in places where they probably haven’t had to think about it yet, but on the strong side of that … we’re in a much better position to share information and intelligence,” Jack Riley, the head of DEA operations in Chicago, told Efe.

“We’ve been able to attack those criminal Mexican organizations, stopping the way they operate here (Chicago) and that, in a very distinct way, has really made a difference in terms of the violence of the street gangs,” he said in a telephone interview.

The success, Riley said, is largely due “to great intelligence and information originating from the border region and in some cases from Mexico.”


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