For some time being dispatched some of his best agents to live and work in the United States, strengthening its presence
If not the brakes, authorities say, the penetration of U.S. territory cartels could make it harder to fight yet and could also pave the way for other criminal activities such as prostitution, kidnapping, extortion and money laundering.
The cartel activity in the United States since it is not new. From the decade of 1990 the murderous bands have been the main supplier of illegal drugs , using middlemen to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and heroin and even to grow marijuana here.
But an extensive review of cases before the courts and government dependency information, and interviews with senior officials of security agencies indicate that the cartels have begun to deploy agents trust in at least nine non-border states, even in suburbs middle class in central-western states, the south and the northeast.
“This is probably the threat of organized crime more serious ever faced by the United States,” said Jack Riley, director of the Chicago office of the agency to combat drug trafficking (DEA, for its acronym in English) .
The threat is so great that one of the most prominent kingpins Mexico – a man who never set foot in Chicago – was recently appointed as public enemy number one of that city, dubious honor it once held Al Capone.
The Chicago Crime Commission, a non-governmental agency to trends of criminals in the region, said he considers Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman a threat bigger than Capone because it leads the Sinaloa cartel , which supplies most of narcotics sold in Chicago and in many U.S. cities.
Years ago Mexico faced the same problem – new cartels seeking to expand its power – “not put a stop to entry,” said Jack Killorin, director of anti-trafficking program of the Office for National Drug Control Policy in Atlanta. “And look where they are now.”
“People say, ‘the border is far, that’s not our problem.’ But it turns out that it is. Currently operating in Chicago as if they were on the border,” said Riley.
The border states from Texas to California, grappling for some time with the presence of the cartels . In recent times, however, there have been episodes involving cartel members in suburban Chicago and Atlanta, and Columbus, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, and in rural North Carolina. There has also been suspected in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
The cartels “are taking over our neighborhoods,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane before a legislative committee in February. The state police chief Frank Noonan, however, denied this and said that drug cartels supply, but not those who sell them on the ground.
For years, posters chose to do business in Mexico with U.S. traffickers, who took care of the transport and distribution in large cities, said Art Bilek, former organized crime investigator who is now executive vice president of the commission of the crime.
As organizations became more sophisticated, the cartels began plotting ways to keep a larger share of the profits. They decided to put aside the intermediaries and have direct control over the distribution and sale, he said.
Two or three years ago, the authorities noted that cartels were putting “people on the ground here,” said Bilek. “Chicago has become a huge market for them was vital to have a firm grip.”
To combat the cartels, Chicago recently opened an office in a secret place where 70 federal agents working with police and prosecutors. They focus on the contacts between the cartels operating in the suburbs and street gangs selling drugs in the city. At that level is that these bands are most vulnerable when they are physically or used cell phones that can be interfered with.
Some people are not convinced that the cartels are expanding their presence and say security forces tend to exaggerate the threats to give them more money for their operations.
Davis Shirk, the Trans-Border Institute at the University of Chicago, said there is not much intelligence information indicating that the cartels are sending large numbers of people to the United States.
“We know very little about the structure and dynamics of the signs north of the border,” said Shirk. “We have to be careful about the things we take for granted.”
DEA statistics reveal a growing presence of cartels in U.S. cities . In 2008 some 230 communities reported some presence of the cartels. That rose to 200 thousand in 2011 , the most recent year for which statistics. Part of that increase, however, may result from that now most of these things are reported.
Dozens of federal agents and local police officers interviewed said they identified members or collaborators of the cartels by interceptions of conversations, accusations of informants or confessions. Hundreds of revised court documents seem to support that thesis.
“This is the first time we see: Signs that send their people here,” said Richard Pearson, Department lieutenant Luisville Metropolitan Police, who arrested four alleged agents of the Zetas cartel in November in the suburb of Okolona .
Residents of a leafy street where authorities seized a thousand 100 kilos (over two thousand 400 pounds) of marijuana and more than a million dollars in cash could not believe that such nice neighbors had been accused of working for one of the Mexico’s most violent cartels, said Pearson.
One of the best documented cases is that of José González Zavala , who was sent to America by the La Familia cartel , according to legal documents.
In 2008, the taxi driver, father of five children, moved to a spacious house in the 1416 Brookfield Drive in Joliet middle class neighborhood in southwest Chicago. From there, the documents state, oversaw the shipment of cocaine shipments to Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Transcripts of intercepted conversations show that a capo called unidentified cartel of Mexico almost every day, showing deference to an executive expresses intermediate level towards higher on the corporate ladder. Once staggered, explaining that a customer does not pay back its debt to a trip.
“No,” said the boss. “You have to pay.”
The same poster Jorge Guadalupe Ayala dispatched to a house kept in custody Chicago-deposit $ 300 a week, plus a payment of $ 35,000 when he returned to Mexico after a stay of one or two years, according to the documents.
Ayala brought his wife and son to give him the house a regular family life. But he was arrested before he could return home and pleaded guilty to various drug charges. He will be sentenced later this year.
Socorro Hernandez Rodriguez was convicted in 2011 for leading a drug sales operation in Gwinnett County, just outside of Atlanta. Prosecutors said Hernandez and his partner were important figures of La Familia, which denies defense.
In late February, on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio, authorities detained Neri Isaac Eli Perez, 34, who reportedly told investigators he was in charge of collecting debts with the Sinaloa cartel.
An Atlanta lawyer who represented alleged cartel members says authorities sometimes exaggerate the threats that these people represent.
“Often there are kids coming out of Mexico for the first time and sleep on mattresses on the floor in drug houses, who play Game Boy, eat hamburgers and money are simply outstanding in and out,” said Bruce Harvey. “One day the arrest and sentencing are enormous.’s A sad thing.”
This is the very reason why the cartels prefer to send their own people: It is not easy to trust strangers in this ruthless world. There is also the fear factor. Cartels can better control their agents to brokers, often with threats of torture or kill their loved ones in Mexico.
Danny Porter, chief prosecutor in Gwinnett County, Georgia, said he tried to convince dozens of people suspected cartels belong to cooperate with authorities. Some will laugh in your face.
“They say, ‘I have more fear of them (the cartels) to you. If we speak, our families will shoot boiling acid”’ said Porter.” Their families are basically hostages. ”
The safety of his family was what prompted Gonzalez Zavala to desist from cooperating with authorities in exchange for reduce their sentence him to 40 years in prison.
There are cases in which the posters sent their own families to the United States.
“Sometimes they are married or are related to someone poster” said Porter. “They do not hire anybody.”
They are so meticulous that make candidates fill out a form before being shipped to the U.S., he said Ripley.
Cartels in Mexico are famous for the amount of people they kill. More than 50 000 people, according to an account. Beheadings are common .
But so far the signs do not speak directly responsible for too many murders in the United States, although the Department of Texas Public Safety reported 22 murders and five kidnappings attributed to agents of the cartels between 2010 and mid-2011.
The police, however, fears that an increasing cartel activity can generate more violence.
In Chicago, the police chief who oversees investigations of drug trafficking, James O’Grady, said that disputes between drug dealers are the reason for the increase in the number of murders that occurred in the city last year, where more than 500 for the first time since 2008. The cartels are not available to turf wars, but are those supplying drugs.
Riley goes further argues that the posters should be seen as the underlying cause of the high rate of murders there in Chicago.
“They are the puppet masters,” he said. “Maybe not the shooter and the victim know either. But if you look at the dynamic step, cartels are ultimately responsible.”