U.S. Department of Justice
National Drug Intelligence Center
Chicago HIDTA Drug Market Analysis 2010
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 cocaine, heroin, and marijuana and most of the ice methamphetamine transported to the Chicago area are destined for other drug markets, including those in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Distributors and abusers in other states routinely travel to the region to purchase drugs and return to their home locations to abuse them or distribute them for profit. For example, heroin abusers from northern Indiana and southern Wisconsin often travel to the Chicago HIDTA region to purchase heroin. Mexican DTOs transport ice methamphetamine into and through Chicago for eventual distribution in other markets in the Midwest, where demand for the drug is high.
Wholesale illicit drug distribution in and from the Chicago HIDTA region is controlled by Mexican DTOs and criminal groups; their domination is not expected 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. Colombian DTOs also distribute cocaine and SA heroin in the region. Wholesale quantities of MDMA and high-potency Canadian marijuana are commonly distributed in the region by Albanian, Caucasian, Chinese, and Vietnamese traffickers.
Retail drug distribution in the region is largely controlled by street gangs. High-ranking street gang members have access to multiple sources of supply, ensuring 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. For example, law enforcement officials report that some street gangs in Chicago distribute several thousand $10 bags of heroin per day. Law enforcement targeting of street corner drug distribution has been successful in reducing the number of open-air markets in Chicago. As a result, retail-level dealers are increasingly using covert distribution techniques that often employ electronic communication devices to conduct drug sales and prearrange meetings with customers.
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Drug-related violence involving street gangs is one of the principal public safety concerns for law enforcement officials in the Chicago HIDTA region. This violence often results from disputes among street gang members vying for control of drug distribution territories or drug and money rip-offs by dealers or buyers. When violence occurs, retaliation typically follows, leading to increased hostilities and often homicides. According to the Chicago Police Department, 58.1 percent of the murders in Chicago in 2009 were gang-involved. The overall threat of gang violence is elevated by the availability of firearms supplied to Chicago street gang members from associates in states with less stringent gun control laws. The top out-of-state source for firearms recovered in Illinois is Indiana. Mississippi, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Kentucky are also significant source states for firearms recovered in Illinois. Of the 458 murders investigated by the Chicago Police Department in 2009, 81.4 percent involved firearms. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Firearms Tracing System, 55.4 percent of the 11,366 firearms recovered and traced in Illinois in 2008 were recovered in Chicago.
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