Mexican drug cartels are invading Atlanta. USA Today says that of the 195 U.S. cities where Mexican drug-trafficking organizations are operating, federal law enforcement officials say Atlanta has emerged as the new gateway to the troubled Southwest border. Rival drug cartels, the violent groups warring in Mexico for control of routes to lucrative U.S. markets, have established Atlanta as the principal distribution center for the eastern U.S., says the Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center. In fiscal 2008, federal drug authorities seized more drug-related cash in Atlanta — about $70 million — than any other region.
This year, more than $30 million has been intercepted in the Alanta area — far more than the $19 million in Los Angeles and $18 million in Chicago. “The same folks who are rolling heads in the streets of Ciudad Juárez” — El Paso’s Mexican neighbor — “are operating in Atlanta. Here, they are just better behaved,” says Jack Killorin, who heads the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s task force in Atlanta. The same regional features that appeal to legitimate corporate operations — access to transportation systems and proximity to major U.S. cities — have lured the cartels, Atlanta U.S. Attorney David Nahmias says.