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Mexican DTOs and criminal groups dominate wholesale cocaine, heroin, and marijuana distribution in the Chicago HIDTA region; their domination is unlikely to be challenged by other groups in the near term. Mexican traffickers are increasingly expanding their distribution operations to suburban communities in the region, where they also store large drug shipments. The growing Mexican population in suburban areas enables these organizations to conceal their trafficking activities by blending into expanding Hispanic communities. Asian, Albanian, and Caucasian traffickers distribute wholesale quantities of MDMA and high-potency Canadian marijuana in the region.

Canadian Traffickers Supply MDMA and Marijuana to Chicago Distributors

In December 2007, 21 defendants were charged in a federal complaint in the Northern District of Illinois as a result of a 4-year investigation for their alleged participation in an international conspiracy to distribute Canadian MDMA and high-potency Canadian marijuana in the Chicago metropolitan area. The sources of supply were identified as two Canadian citizens of Chinese ethnicity who, with the assistance of individuals from Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood, had transported the drugs from Canada and provided them to two distribution groups. One of these groups was headed by a South Korean national, the other by a member of Flip City Kings, a Filipino-based faction of the Latin Kings street gang. During the course of the investigation, more than 180,000 MDMA tablets and over $500,000 in drug proceeds were seized; however, investigative authorities estimate that hundreds of thousands of MDMA tablets were supplied to the Chicago distributors by this organization.

Source: U.S. Attorney Northern District of Illinois and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Retail drug distribution in the region is largely controlled by street gangs. High-ranking street gang members often have access to multiple sources of supply, including Mexican, Colombian, and Nigerian and other West African traffickers, ensuring them a steady supply of drugs for retail distribution. Street corner drug sales in urban areas are the principal means by which retail-level dealers distribute drugs in Chicago. However, over the past few years, the Chicago Police Department's initiatives targeting street corner drug distribution have been successful in reducing open-air markets and associated violent crime in the city. As a result, some retail-level dealers have established operations in outlying suburban communities; this has caused an increase in drug-related crimes in these areas, including robberies, drive-by shootings, and homicides. Many suburban law enforcement agencies report that they are increasingly burdened with the responsibility of combating gang-related criminal activity, often without the necessary resources.

The Chicago HIDTA region serves as a national-level distribution center for illicit drugs available throughout the Midwest and the eastern United States. Some of the illicit drugs (cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and ice methamphetamine) transported to the Chicago area are destined for other drug markets, including those in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Mexican DTOs transport ice methamphetamine into and through Chicago for eventual distribution in other markets in the Midwest where local methamphetamine production has declined and demand for the drug remains high. Additionally, distributors and abusers in other states routinely travel to the region to purchase drugs and return to their home locations to distribute them. For example, heroin abusers from northern Indiana and southern Wisconsin often travel to the Chicago HIDTA region to purchase heroin.

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