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Ananth Baliga CARTEL Photo 1

Ananth Baliga/MEDILL

J.R. Davis, left, president and chairman of the Chicago Crime Commission, said that compared to Guzman, Al Capone looked like an amateur.

Move over, Al Capone: Mexican drug lord is Chicago’s new Public Enemy No. 1

by Ananth Baliga
Feb 14, 2013

Ananth Baliga CARTEL Photo 3

Ananth Baliga/MEDILL

Guzman has been indicted in the Northern District of Illinois and if extradited will be in prison.

Ananth Baliga CARTEL Photo 4

The Joaquin Guzman Loera run Sinaloa Cartel is one of the major suppliers of narcotics in Chicago, accounting for nearly 90 percent of drug traffic in the city.

Ananth Baliga/MEDILL

Do you know who Joaquin Guzman Loera is? Well, for one Guzman is supposedly worth $1 billion, according to Forbes.

Al Capone on Thursday lost his title as Chicago’s Public Enemy No. 1 to Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman Loera. Guzman, who runs the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, is only the second person to be awarded this title by the Chicago Crime Commission.

J.R. Davis, president and chairman of the Chicago Crime Commission, said that Guzman is responsible for nearly 90 percent of the marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine on the streets of Chicago. This has led Guzman to be associated with around 100,000 street gang members in the city and suburbs.

“There is a direct link between him and the violence in the streets because he is providing the narcotics,” Davis said.

Jack Riley, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office, said citizens would see tangible results in the coming weeks by the Chicago Strike Force, but didn’t divulge details. The strike force is a crime-fighting team comprising the DEA, FBI, IRS and Chicago and suburban police departments as well as other agencies.

He said the first task will be to intercept information regarding the cartel from the mid-level to the streets of Chicago, and this will get them closer to Guzman.

Riley said that this was the primary reason for using Chicago as the epicenter of this crackdown on the Sinaloa Cartel. Another reason is that the large population of Mexican-Americans in the city helps the cartel to camouflage their operations.

“We have the 3rd or 4th largest Mexican population outside Mexico. That gives Mexican criminal organizations an opportunity to hide amongst thousands of hard working and law-abiding Mexican-Americans,” Riley said.

Chicago provides a logistical advantage to the cartel, acting like a hub for incoming narcotics, which are then transported to locations across the country.

Officials said they weren’t worried about any violent backlash from these crackdowns and want to intensify pressure on the cartel by increasing awareness among Americans.

The State Department is offering $5 million for any information about Guzman, and another $1 million reward is being offered in Mexico. Guzman is believed to be hiding in the Sierra Madre range in Mexico.