DEA report assesses illicit drug trade in Chicago, across US as 'deadliest drug crisis ever'

ByBarb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones and Chuck Goudie WLS logo
Friday, May 10, 2024
DEA report assesses illicit drug trade as 'deadliest drug crisis ever'
A new Drug Enforcement Administration report has assessed the illicit drug trade in Chicago and across the U.S. as the "deadliest drug crisis ever."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The nation's Drug Enforcement Administration has released a new assessment of the illicit drug trade and the drug poisoning crisis threatening Chicago and other American communities.

The 2024 report paints a troubling but not surprising picture of the "Deadliest Drug Crisis Ever" to use the words of DEA's administrator.

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Fentanyl is now listed as the nation's greatest and most urgent drug threat as Mexican cartels remain at the heart of drug trafficking in Chicago and across the county.

There's also a new warning about the peddling of street drugs known as digital drug dealing.

The head of DEA has issued a warning about the latest threat in the overdose epidemic: the ease of obtaining illegal drugs on social media and through other technology.

"You can not buy a legitimate prescription on social media. Pills advertised there are fake and most likely contain fentanyl," said Ann Milgram, Administrator of the DEA.

Milgram told Congress this week that Americans are having pills delivered to their front door step like a cheeseburger on Uber Eats.

"Save a life, don't take a pill if that pill didn't come from your doctor or pharmacy," Milgram said.

The agency's 2024 Drug Threat Assessment Report calls fentanyl the nation's greatest and most urgent drug menace. It also highlights how cartels continue to distribute deadly and poisonous drugs across the country. A map shows Illinois's cartel presence is among the nation's worst.

"One of our biggest problems are local and regional drug trafficking organizations," longtime Chicago lawman Nick Roti said. "While we do have international drug trafficking organization presence in Chicago, mostly CJNG Sinaloa. A lot of our focus is on the local drug trafficking organizations. Frankly, gangs, mostly, they are the biggest purveyor of narcotics in our area. So we start there and we try to interdict that because what that also does for Chicago in our area is impact violence, because the drug trafficking in our area, Chicagoland, is intrinsically related to violence."

Roti now leads Chicago's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The federal agency also known as HIDTA helps local police departments combat drug-related offenses.

"Now it's it's at a level that we've never seen before," Roti said. "I mean, you can picture 110,000 overdoses, fatal overdoses across the country every year. That's literally a 200 person plane crashing every day of the year."

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The new report from the DEA pins the majority of illicit drug sales on two cartels, Sinaloa and the New Generation cartel.

Sinaloa cartel is currently run by relatives of the jailed-druglord El Chapo. He's believed to be responsible for 80% of Chicago's street drugs.

New Generation is run by a kingpin called El Mencho who is currently considered Chicago's most wanted fugitive.