Mexican drug cartels fight turf battles in Chicago

Published on August 29th, 2012

A disturbing news report aired on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on August 23, 2012 began:

(CBS News) CHICAGO – Gun violence is out of control in Chicago. Just last night, there were eight shootings, two of them deadly.

That pushes the total so far in 2012 to 351 shooting deaths — up 30 percent from last year. Drug gangs are a big reason.

Both President Obama and Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano have often claimed that our borders are secure.  We have also heard Ms. Napolitano claim that “Spillover Violence” was not a problem.

Janet Napolitano herself has stated that more than two hundred American cities have been infested by Mexican drug cartels.  Additionally, other transnational gangs from Latin America as well as from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere have also set up shop in towns and cities in virtually every one of America's 50 states.  Many of these gangs are known for their use of extreme violence to intimidate competitors as well as those who would cooperate with police and other law enforcement agencies.

Back in 1988 I was the first INS special agent to be assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York Field Division, where I conducted an analysis of arrest records to determine who was being arrested by the DEA in New York as well as across the United States.  I found that 60% of the defendants arrested by the DEA Task Force in New York City were identified as being “foreign-born” while nationally 30% of all such defendants were so described.

The August 23rd CBS news report included an interview with Jack Riley, the Special Agent-in-Charge (SAC) of DEA's Chicago Office:

Daily turf battles over drugs and distribution, he said, are turning parts of this Midwest city into a Mexican border town.

"One of the hardest jobs I've had in the past couple of years is to convince our law enforcement partners that we need an enforcement mentality as if we're on the border," Riley said.

Miles away, Riley says, Mexican cartels have a significant influence in Chicago's gang violence problem.

"Let's take the gloves off on that," he said. "We know that the majority of the drugs here in Chicago, cartels are responsible for. We know that the majority of the murders are gang related. So it is very clear to see the connection and the role."

As it stands now, at least three major Mexican cartels are battling over control of billions of dollars of marijuana, cocaine and — increasingly — heroin in this city. That includes the ultra-violent Zetas and the powerful Sinaloa cartel, run by its shadowy leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Clearly “Spillover Violence” from Mexico is not only commonplace but endangers Americans and members of immigrant communities- not only along the US/Mexican border but across America!

SAC Riley is absolutely correct in his assessment and his drawing the comparison between Chicago and a Mexican border town is particularly noteworthy because he was previously assigned as the SAC of the DEA's El Paso, Texas office.  It is disappointing that he created a task force that includes the FBI, ATF and local police who have partnered with his agents in Chicago but absolutely no mention was made of incorporating ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) into this task force.

After having served for nearly 4 years with the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA in New York, I was promoted to the position of Senior Special Agent and assigned the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) where I worked in extremely close coordination with the DEA, FBI, ATF and local and state police for the balance of my career.  I found that my authorities as an INS special agent were often instrumental in conducting successful investigations of drug gangs- most of which had large numbers of aliens playing key roles in these pernicious gangs.  The effective use of immigration laws and procedures can provide law enforcement with ample and unique opportunities to convince aliens to become cooperators and informants to further drug investigations.  Immigration laws often provide important opportunities to bring additional criminal charges against alien gang members and make certain, that upon conviction, they are deported after they complete their prison sentences.

The effective enforcement of immigration laws should be a routine factor in law enforcement operations across the America so that the two primary objectives of our immigration laws can be realized- to protect American lives and protect American jobs.

The administration bolsters claims that the borders have never been more secure, pointing to Border Patrol arrest statistics.  Border Patrol agents have disputed these claims.

There is a far better way of determining if our borders are truly secure- simply ask if illegal drugs are still making their way onto street corners in towns and cities across America.  The answer to this question is self-evident!  Furthermore, the proceeds of the drug trade enrich the coffers of the drug cartels and terrorist organizations that have the United States in their sights!

The final sentence of the CBS report should get everyone’s attention:

More than ever, Chicago's problem is turning into a Midwest problem. Cartel operations are also spreading to Milwaukee, St. Louis and Detroit.

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