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Local DEA official wants cartel chief tried in Chicago

Published: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 11:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 11:09 p.m. CDT
(AP photo)
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter Saturday in handcuffs by Mexican navy marines at a navy hanger in Mexico City, Mexico. A senior U.S. law enforcement official said Saturday, that Guzman, the head of MexicoÌs Sinaloa Cartel, was captured alive overnight in the beach resort town of Mazatlan. Guzman faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the U.S. and is on the Drug Enforcement AdministrationÌs most-wanted list.

CHICAGO – A local drug enforcement official said Saturday he wants a cartel leader who was named Chicago’s first “Public Enemy No. 1” since Al Capone to be brought to the city to stand trial.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the 56-year-old head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, was captured alive overnight by U.S. and Mexican authorities at a hotel in Mazatlan, Mexico. He was being taken to prison in Mexico.

Guzman faces multiple drug trafficking indictments in the U.S., including one handed up in 2009 by a federal grand jury in Chicago. The indictment named Guzman and other members of the cartel in a conspiracy to import and sell large amounts of cocaine and heroin in the United States.

Authorities have not yet said whether Guzman will be extradited to the U.S.

But Jack Riley, head of the Chicago office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, told the Chicago Sun-Times he believes that Chicago has the strongest argument for getting the case.

“I fully intend for us to have him tried here,” he said.

Several men who prosecutors have described as Guzman’s lieutenants already are awaiting trial in Chicago.

The Chicago Crime Commission named Guzman the city’s Public Enemy No. 1 last year, saying his cartel supplied most of the illegal drugs sold in the city.

The only other person to have the notorious label was Capone, who earned it in 1930, at height of the Prohibition-era gang wars.

Art Bilek, the commission’s executive vice president, said at the time of the announcement that the commission considered Guzman even more menacing than Capone.

“What Al Capone was to beer and whiskey during Prohibition, Guzman is to narcotics,” Bilek said during the 2013 news conference. “Of the two, Guzman is by far the greater threat. ... And he has more power and financial capability than Capone ever dreamed of.”

Riley said at the time that Chicago was one of the Sinaloa cartel’s most important cities, both as a destination for drugs and a hub from which to distribute them.

The crime commission, a non-government organization that tracks crime trends, said it was singling out Guzman in an effort to inspire more public support for going after him.

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