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Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
May 2007

HIDTA Overview

The Chicago HIDTA region--consisting of Cook, Grundy, Kendall, and Will Counties in northeastern Illinois--is one of the largest consumer markets for illicit drugs in the United States. It serves as a national-level transshipment and distribution center for cocaine, heroin, and marijuana available throughout much of the country.

With over 6 million residents, the region is densely populated, containing approximately one-half of Illinois's population. Moreover, the region encompasses Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States. The diverse ethnic population in the region enables members of DTOs, criminal groups, and street gangs to easily assimilate into its many communities and shield their drug trafficking activities. For example, the Hispanic population in Chicago is among the largest in the United States; approximately one-third of the city's population is Hispanic (primarily Mexican). Mexican DTOs operate stash houses in many Hispanic communities in Chicago and often employ individuals in these communities in various aspects of their drug trafficking operations.

The area has a highly accessible transportation system, including major roadways that link the region to Mexico and southwestern states, major source areas for much of the cocaine, heroin, and marijuana available in the region. The transportation infrastructure of the region also features the nation's largest trucking center, the second-busiest airport, and the busiest rail and postal facilities, facilitating the continuous flow of licit and illicit goods to and from the area. The Chicago HIDTA region is in proximity to Canada--a principal source for some of the high-potency marijuana and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as ecstasy) that are distributed in Chicago or transshipped through the area to other U.S. drug markets.

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