U.S. Department of Justice
National Drug Intelligence Center
Chicago HIDTA Drug Market Analysis 2010
The Chicago HIDTA region, composed of Cook, Grundy, Kendall, and Will Counties, comprises more than 6.1 million residents--nearly half the population of Illinois.b The Chicago metropolitan area is one of the nation's largest drug markets and a national-level distribution center for cocaine, heroin, and marijuana available in the Midwest and the eastern United States. Cook County, which includes the city of Chicago, is second only to Los Angeles County, California, as the most populated county in the United States. According to U.S. Census estimates, Kendall County and Will County are two of the fastest-growing counties in the United States; their populations grew 89.6 percent and 35.6 percent, respectively, from 2000 through 2008.
Figure 1. Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
The Chicago metropolitan areac is densely populated and ethnically diverse, enabling DTO members, criminal groups, and street gangs to assimilate within communities and conceal their drug trafficking activities. The Mexican community in Chicago, the second-largest of any metropolitan area in the United States, is experiencing substantial growth as a result of ongoing immigration and higher-than-average birth rates. Chicago also has the fifth-largest immigrant population among U.S. metropolitan areas, with approximately 1.4 million immigrants. The largest immigrant populations in the metropolitan area are from Mexico, Poland, and India, while the fastest-growing populations are from Ghana, Nigeria, Russia, Pakistan, and Vietnam. Although ethnic communities are typically concentrated in Cook County, suburban counties are also experiencing substantial growth in immigrant populations.
The region has a highly developed transportation infrastructure that facilitates the continuous movement of licit and illicit goods to and from the area. Chicago is one of the nation's largest trucking centers, principally because of its proximity to Interstates 55, 57, 80, 88, 90, and 94, which pass through the metropolitan area. (See Figure 1) These major highways are frequently used by traffickers to transport illicit drugs to Chicago from Mexico and locations along the Southwest Border. Two major international airports, O'Hare and Midway, which are located within the HIDTA region, processed approximately 81 million passengers and 1.2 million tons of cargo in 2009 and are frequently used by traffickers to smuggle illicit drugs into the Chicago area. In addition, Chicago's train, bus, mail, and parcel delivery services are exploited by DTOs, criminal groups, and street gangs to transport drugs and drug proceeds to and from the region.
Figure 2. Greatest Drug Threat to the Chicago HIDTA Region, as Reported By Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies by Number of Respondentsd
Source: National Drug Threat Survey 2010.
b. U.S. Census estimates indicate that approximately 47 percent of Illinois residents resided in the Chicago HIDTA region as of July 1, 2008, the most recent date for which data are available.
c. The Chicago metropolitan area includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties.
d. NDTS data for 2010 cited in this report are as of March 3, 2010. NDTS data cited are raw, unweighted responses from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies solicited through either NDIC or the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) HIDTA program. Data cited may include responses from agencies that are part of the NDTS 2010 national sample or agencies that are part of HIDTA solicitation lists.
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