The conclave of cops and prosecutors Friday reflects the deadly surge in drug abuse and drug overdose deaths in Chicago, all of the result of an out-of-control coalition of Chicago street gangs, and primarily, one Mexican cartel.
One hundred and fifty local law enforcement officers from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin met at a west suburban hotel to discuss the increasing problems from heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines being sold here by the cartel coalition.
"This is what ticks me off, why does it take a Hollywood star to bring heroin to the main stream? I don't know why but we have to seize the moment. Heroin is the number one drug of choice in the Midwest," said Jack Riley, DEA.
The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration office in Chicago has no shortage of material these days, or cases for his agents to work.
As the I-Team reported last week, heroin sales in some Chicago neighborhoods are so brisk that dealers have lines of customers waiting to buy.
"We have to disrupt them and that starts on the streets of Chicago to the jungles of Columbia, Columbia, Peru and Mexico," said Riley.
Mexico's Sinaloa cartel is the command and control center for 85 percent of the street drugs sold in Chicago, according to federal agents. This video obtained by the I-Team shows cartel mules running drugs through a hole in the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border just outside downtown El Paso, Texas.
And after a lull, the cartel violence is escalating in Mexico. In the past ten days, federal police have located the remains of at least 500 people in Mexico, buried in a war between the cartels.
"Unfortunately what we are dealing with up in here is people are here collecting money, they are putting dope on the street, what they don't recognize is that they are working for the same organization. DEA can hit in one block there is money in it, they can hit a house on the next block no money-- even though those two people report to the same person in Mexico they have no idea each other exists," said Riley.
DEA officials say the drug cartels use Chicago for the same reason major corporations are here: transportation routes, logistics, and a burgeoning Mexican population that allows cartel operatives to blend in. And there is obviously a ready market with an appetite for their products.