Drug Enforcement Administration


Robert J. Bell , Special Agent in Charge

August 15, 2018

Contact: Jennifer Vann

Phone Number: 312-353-7875

Officials unveil Chicago’s action plan for attacking Mexican drug cartels

CHICAGO – The Chicago Drug Enforcement Administration, along with multiple high-level Mexican Government counterparts, the Chicago Police Department and various federal, state and local law enforcement partners, today unveiled an action plan for attacking Mexican drug cartels.

The announcement came after a series of high level meetings took place at both the DEA Chicago Field Division Office and Chicago Police Department Headquarters. Those attending the meetings included Anthony D. Williams, the Chief of Operations for the DEA; Brian M. McKnight, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Chicago Field Division; Timothy J. Plancon, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Detroit Field Division; William J. Callahan, Special Agent in Charge of the St. Louis Field Division; multiple Mexican Officials from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office;  the Mexican Ministry of Defense, the Mexican Marine Corps, the Mexican Federal Police and Superintendent Eddie Johnson of the Chicago Police Department.

During these events, Chicago Special Agent in Charge McKnight said, “This is not just a Chicago problem. This is not just a national problem. This is an international problem.” There is no single entity or solution that can stop the flow of dangerous illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl into Chicago or to keep them from harming the citizens of this great city. There is a 50 to 60 percent increase in overdose deaths in Illinois alone. In Chicago, seizures of illicit fentanyl and heroin have increased almost at record numbers. And to be clear – these drugs are being produced, manufactured and trafficked by various Mexican Cartels to numerous parts of the United States and elsewhere in the world.

“This is a unified force of local, state, federal and international law enforcement counterparts," said Special Agent in Charge McKnight. "Today we bring forth a new day of justice to the problems which have been plaguing our neighborhoods, our city and our Nation. A new era of law enforcement in upon us, and we are coming for you.”

Special Agent in Charge McKnight detailed how this new action plan includes the following key points: Increased international investigations of high value Mexican Cartel targets who directly impact Chicago; increased judicialized operations relative to law enforcement investigations; a new enforcement group focusing strictly on significant Mexican-based targets; increased bilateral cooperation on the heroin, fentanyl and polydrug networks directly linked to Chicago; and attacking the cartels’ financial infrastructure – denying revenue.

“Gangs and Cartels go hand-in-hand," said DEA Chief of Operations Williams. 

The sole purpose of these entities is one thing and one thing only: money, which they believe propels them to power. 

“By taking away their source of revenue and their ability to make a profit, we take away their influence and their perceived authority and control of OUR community," said Chief of Operations Williams. "Only by coordinating our operations and increasing cooperation can we – together – break the link between the violent street gangs of America and the Mexican drug cartels.” 

"These international investigations demonstrate the possibilities of successes in identifying and producing undeniable prosecutorial evidence against members of Cartels, Transnational Criminal Organizations, and Money laundering Organizations," said DEA’s North and Central Americas Regional Director Donahue. "The Cartels, transnational criminal organizations or and money launderers create havoc and instability in our neighborhoods and communities, jeopardize the security of our citizens, to the point they will stop at no cost in destroying lives, families, and countries in order to expand their criminal enterprises. These cartels utilize corruption and terrorist activities to violate public trust and confidence of the Mexican people and others throughout the Unites States, Central America and other countries. Working together on a common goal and mission ensures that both countries’ securities and rules of law are respected and followed. The Mexican Police, judicial and military units should be commended for their continued hard work, dedication and support of the U.S. Government and our law enforcement agencies in support of these types of international investigations that rid the region of corruption, drug trafficking and money laundering."

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