Drug cartel business booms as legitimate supply chains struggle, overdose data shows | News Today

Drug cartel business booms as legitimate supply chains struggle, overdose data shows

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CHICAGO (WLS) – Disturbing new data shows drug overdose deaths are at record highs in Chicago and across the country. Drug cartels continue to ship illicit goods as other supply chains around the world struggle.

For the drug cartels, planes, trains, and automobiles aren’t a beloved Thanksgiving movie. It is a description of their logistics machine.

Thrown into trucks, tunnels and even submarines, and authorities say this business continues even as legitimate supply chains are struggling.

On Wednesday November 3 at Gary / Chicago International Airport, a private jet registered in Mexico arrived with 220 pounds. of cocaine, according to federal drug investigators. Investigators said the drugs were packed in several suitcases which were transferred to a pending SUV.

“If they lose their charges, I mean, it could be the difference between life and death,” said Ed Farrell, owner of Silver Star Protection Group.

Farrell, who is also a former Deputy United States Marshal, said drug dealers are always looking for a backdoor, away from places where there is more attention.

“They went to a more distant airport, which tells me there is less screening,” Farrell said.

Officials at Gary Airport said there had been no inspection of the plane as it had cleared customs in Houston hours earlier after a flight from Toluca, Mexico.

Among those on board was 30-year-old Mexican national Sebastian Vazquez-Gamez, according to a federal complaint. He reportedly traveled to Chicago’s Gold Coast and checked into a hotel on Chestnut Street, where U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents said they arrested him and confiscated the cocaine.

Alexis Jimenez-Perez, 25, of Columbus, Indiana, and Sergio Ivan Blas, 39, were also arrested.

Agents said sales records found in Blas’ car revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug trafficking. Federal authorities seized an $ 8 million jet that the group allegedly used and moved it to a hangar in Florida, according to theft records.

The plane has traveled from Mexico to Texas to Gary on several occasions, and authorities said they had it under surveillance. Aviation website FlightAware took public photos of the aircraft at several airports in the United States and Mexico.

The special agent in charge of the DEA in Chicago declined to discuss the Gary case, but said the cartel’s supply lines are unaffected by global shipping issues.

“The cartels use every means possible to get drugs from Mexico to the United States and then to local markets. And in Chicago, that mainly means for the gangs that control the drug markets in Chicago,” said Robert Bell, special agent in charge of the DEA. Chicago. “In the first quarter of fiscal 2021, we seized more methamphetamine than in the full fiscal year 2020.”

More illicit drugs have been intercepted but also consumed, with illegal concoctions of the potent pain reliever Fentanyl now causing 75 percent of all overdose deaths in the Chicago area. The most recent data, from April 2020 to April 2021, shows a record number of overdose deaths in Cook County and the state of Illinois. For the first time, 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in a year, a peak of 30%.

Investigators said four out of 10 counterfeit fentanyl pills tested contained a lethal dose.

“Quality control is very minimal when fentanyl is manufactured on an industrial scale by cartels in Mexico,” Bell said.

It’s an overheated business that frequently overflows. In early November, a masked and heavily armed squad attacked a resort town in Cancun, Mexico, killing two men. Investigators believe it was a dispute between two rival cartels; the same two cartels that control the entire Chicago illicit drug trade.

The leaders of these two Mexican cartels are currently Chicago’s most wanted fugitives. For the boss of the DEA Chicago, one truth remains constant in the world of cartels.

“There is no such thing as non-violent drug trafficking,” Bell said.

You won’t hear the phrase “War on Drugs” by Robert Bell of the DEA.

“We don’t have a war against our (own) citizens,” he said. “Or a war on people with a drug problem.”

Wars, he explained, have an end. Trying to stop the flow of drugs, he said, is never really over.

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