DEA issues stark warning on fentanyl crisis sweeping Chicago and the US

WASHINGTON, DC - The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently released its 2024 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), highlighting the severity of the drug crisis in Chicago and across the United States.

The report labeled the situation as the "Deadliest Drug Crisis Ever," with fentanyl emerging as the nation's greatest and most urgent drug threat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug-related deaths claimed 107,941 American lives in 2022, with approximately 70% attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The potency of fentanyl is alarming, with just two milligrams considered a potentially fatal dose.

Mexican cartels, notably the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), are identified as key players in fueling the crisis.

The Sinaloa cartel, in particular, is reported to be responsible for 80% of street drugs in Chicago.

These cartels operate extensive global supply chains, spanning more than 40 countries and all 50 US states.

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

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

The DEA report also sheds light on the rise of digital drug dealing, facilitated by social media platforms and encrypted apps. This trend has made illegal drugs more accessible and has posed significant challenges to traditional law enforcement measures. Local law enforcement agencies, especially in Chicago, are grappling with the impact of the crisis.

In addition to Mexican cartels, they face the influence of regional drug trafficking organizations and gang-related activities.

"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, 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."

Internal dynamics within these cartels reveal power struggles and alliances shaping their operations. Despite efforts to dismantle leadership, the cartels continue to adapt and expand operations, diversifying supply chains and seeking new markets globally.

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 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."

The DEA's response to the crisis is characterized by relentless pursuit and disruption of cartel operations.

Despite challenges and tensions with Mexican authorities, the DEA remains committed to combating the fentanyl epidemic and reducing drug-related deaths in the United States.

The report underscores the urgent need for coordinated efforts from law enforcement, policymakers, and communities to address the crisis effectively.

With fentanyl at the forefront, the situation demands immediate attention and comprehensive strategies to mitigate its impact on public health and safety.
“The shift from plant-based drugs, like heroin and cocaine, to synthetic, chemical-based drugs, like fentanyl and methamphetamine, has resulted in the most dangerous and deadly drug crisis the United States has ever faced,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “At the heart of the synthetic drug crisis are the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels and their associates, who the DEA is tracking world-wide. The suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and money launderers all play a role in the web of deliberate and calculated treachery orchestrated by these cartels. The DEA will continue to use all available resources to target these networks and save American lives.”
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