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Cartels and Gangs in Chicago

June 01, 2017

Chicago has a long history of organized crime and is home to numerous street gangs that use the illegal drug trade to build their criminal enterprises. Although the murder rate in Chicago has declined significantly since the 1990s, recent instances of gang-related homicides have placed Chicago’s crime situation in the national spotlight. Compounding Chicago’s crime problem is a steady supply of drugs from Mexican drug cartels, most notably the Sinaloa Cartel. Illicit drugs flow from Mexico to Chicago via a loosely associated network of profit-driven intermediaries, with Chicago street gangs serving as the primary distributors at the street level. The profits earned through drug trafficking increase the staying power of both street gangs and drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), thereby influencing levels of violent crime in both the United States and Mexico. Of particular concern is the trafficking and distribution of heroin, which has increased significantly in recent years and caused significant harm to communities in Chicago and throughout the United States. This report provides background on the gang-related crime situation in Chicago and offers insight on the nexus between Mexican DTOs and Chicago street gangs. 

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