Mexico's most powerful cartel is selling a record amount of heroin and methamphetamine from Chicago’s Little Village area, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. From there, the drugs are moving onto the streets of south and west Chicago, where they are sold in assembly-line fashion in mostly African American neighborhoods, the Washington Post reports. “Chicago, with 100,000 gang members to put the dope on the street, is a logistical winner for the Sinaloa cartel,” says the DEA’s Jack Riley. “We have to operate now as if we're on the Mexican border.”
As drug cartels have amassed more influence in Mexico, they have extended their reach deeper into the U.S. establishing inroads across the Midwest and Southeast. An extensive distribution network relies largely on regional hubs like Chicago, with ready markets off busy interstate highways. Seizures of heroin and methamphetamine have soared in recent years, according to federal statistics. Critics say that as the U.S. has helped Mexico’s antidrug efforts, north of the border the federal government has barely put a dent into a sophisticated infrastructure that supports $20 billion a year in drug cash flowing back to Mexico.