His cash crop is marijuana, which his cartel sells by the ton and protects with horrific violence.
If you thought Chicago’s Italian mob was the worst of the worst in organized crime, think again, federal agents say.“Chapo Guzman would eat them alive,” said Jack Riley, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s office in Chicago.
Most of Guzman’s leafy product comes from Mexico, but some is grown alarmingly nearby — deep in Wisconsin’s North Woods, whose pristine lakes and pine forests are a paradise for weekend campers, hunters and anglers. Authorities suspect much of that Wisconsin-grown pot is destined for here.
Although Chicago is in the U.S. heartland, in the marijuana trade, “We are on the Mexican border,” Riley said.
Mexican marijuana dominates the Chicago market at a time when local police and prosecutors are trying to devise a better way to deal with the tens of thousands of people arrested here every year for possession of small amounts of pot. Most of those misdemeanor cases get dismissed in court, so several area towns, including Chicago and Carpentersville, either have recently proposed or passed ordinances allowing officers to write tickets for minor marijuana possession.
But police and prosecutors say they won’t stop trying to prevent cartels such as Guzman’s from shipping their huge loads of marijuana to Chicago.
“The Mexican cartels have totally taken over the majority of the marijuana trafficking here,” Riley said. “It’s their cash crop. It’s the drug that really allows them to do all of their other criminal enterprises: heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine. That’s why it’s so important to us.”