Will El Chapo's escape strengthen Sinaloa Cartel's power in Chicago?
As the search for El Chapo continues in Mexico, federal authorities are gauging what effect the Drug Kingpin's escape from prison may have on the drug trade in Chicago.
On Thursday, FOX 32's Dane Placko talked to the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency's Chicago office, who says El Chapo's cartel has deep ties to the city.
"Every day the DEA agents here and our great task force officers are working cases against them," said Dennis Wichern.
DEA Chicago Director Dennis Wichern said that the world's most wanted criminal has deep connections in Chicago, a city he never has nor likely ever will visit.
On Sunday, El Chapo Guzman -- leader of the infamous and deadly Sinaloa Cartel -- made a sensational escape from a maximum security Mexican prison through a mile long underground tunnel.
Wichern said the cartel is responsible for more than half the heroin, cocaine, and marijuana sold on the streets of Chicago. He said the cartel uses our city to distribute to the rest of the country for the same reasons so many legitimate companies do.
"When you think of Chicago as the melting pot, and it's central geographic location, it's spoke and hub highway system and its train system, Chicago is just the perfect city to build a base, a distribution base from," said Wichern.
Wichern said El Chapo's drugs typically come into Chicago via the interstate highway system, aboard trucks and cars equipped with special compartments.
"The most common thing we see is a hidden compartment in a car called a trap. We've seen them that can hold a couple kilograms of heroin all the way up to 30 to 50 kilograms of any substance," Wichern said.
While some law enforcement officials believe El Chapo's escape will strengthen the cartel's grip on drugs and power in Chicago, Wichern believes the fugitive has other concerns right now.
"Chapo's the most wanted man in the world now. It's hard to manage your empire when you're on the run," Wichern said.
And if El Chapo is ever caught and extradited to the U.S., Wichern believes he may likely face trial at Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Courthouse. That’s because of the Flores brothers, who are Chicago drug leaders who secretly recorded El Chapo in Mexico while cooperating with the feds in Chicago.
"There's a strong link from the Flores Brothers to Chapo Guzman and the evidence tied to that case," Wichern said.