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Chicago HIDTA

General Information:
  Year of Designation:  1995
  Geographic Area of Responsibility:

Cook, Grundy, Kendall and Will Counties

    Contact: (312) 603-8000 and www.chicago-hidta.org

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Chicago HIDTA is to enhance and coordinate America's drug control efforts among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in order to eliminate or reduce drug trafficking and its harmful consequences in critical regions of the United States. The mission includes coordinated efforts to reduce the production, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and chronic use of illegal drugs, as well as the attendant money laundering of drug proceeds.

Threat Abstract:

The area of responsibility of the Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (Chicago HIDTA) is a microcosm of the drug trafficking and abuse problems facing law enforcement and public health officials across America. The high volume of drugs entering the city, combined with a large pool of abusers, virtually ensures a continuation of the city's severe, chronic drug problems.

Chicago is the hub of an extensive network of state and interstate highways connecting it to other regions of Illinois as well as the rest of the continental United States. This highway network facilitates the transportation of large quantities of illicit drugs to the Chicago area, most commonly in commercial trucks and private vehicles. Mail and parcel delivery services are also used extensively in the transport of these drugs. The largest postal facility in the world is located in Chicago as well as numerous private parcel service providers who handle millions of packages each year. Chicago is also home to the world's busiest rail yards and serves as the principal transshipment point for goods shipped by mail from Mexico to Canada and between the East and West Coasts.

Heroin use continues to be an alarming problem in the Chicago area with Columbian and Nigerian criminal groups the primary smugglers and wholesale suppliers. Heroin is consistently received from all four source areas: Mexico, South America, Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia. The bulk of this heroin is sold at numerous open- air street corner locations, primarily on the West Side of the city.

Cocaine is transported to the Chicago area in metric ton quantities. Most of this cocaine passes through Mexico before entering the United States. Mexican traffickers dominate distribution in Chicago and organized street gangs control retail level cocaine and crack distribution.

Marijuana is the most widely available and commonly used drug in the Chicago area. Polydrug traffickers operating from Mexico are the primary sources for this marijuana. These traffickers commonly transport metric ton quantities of marijuana from the Southwest border to the city. Disruption of these polydrug trafficking organizations require continued and aggressive attention.

Although the availability of methamphetamine is limited in the Chicago area, it poses a significant and increasing problem throughout the rest of Illinois. Methamphetamine lab seizures in outlying suburbs are slowly increasing, signaling what may be a gradual incursion of the drug into the Chicago area.

Club drugs continue to be readily available in the Chicago HIDTA area and are typically sold to and used by youthful suburbanites. Asians, Europeans and Israelis, relative “newcomers” to the drug trade, are the primary wholesale distributors of these drugs.

Chicago's status as a major financial center presents unlimited opportunities for laundering the vast sums of money generated from the trafficking of drugs. Typically, money laundering in Chicago is accomplished by transporting bulk cash to the Southwest border or through the use of wire transfers and other financial services. Traffickers also invest profits from illegal drug sales into legal, mostly cash, businesses such as nightclubs and grocery stores.

Strategy Abstract:

Chicago HIDTA was established as an empowerment HIDTA in 1995 to assist federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in dismantling the Gangster Disciples street gang in order to reduce the flow of illicit drugs and decrease drug related crime in the Chicago area. In 1997, Chicago became a full HIDTA and broadened its attack on illicit drug trafficking and related criminal activity.

The Executive Board is the governing body of Chicago HIDTA and is comprised of eight federal and eight state and local law enforcement executives. The Executive Director provides oversight and ensures HIDTA program compliance and implementation of Executive Board mandates.

Through its initiatives, the Chicago HIDTA Executive Board has continued and expanded its multi-faceted strategy to significantly diminish the drugs threats identified in the annual Threat Assessment.

Chicago HIDTA initiatives include ten enforcement groups comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement personnel, two support initiatives and a training initiative. Four additional enforcement initiatives have been developed and funded with supplemental funding awards. Enforcement activity by Chicago HIDTA initiatives has been designed to target major illicit drug trafficking organizations through aggressive investigations and enforcement that include sources of supply, sources of distribution, drug interdiction and drug related financial and violent crimes.

Investigative Support Center:

The Chicago HIDTA Investigative Support Center (ISC) is the common thread that supports all Chicago HIDTA initiatives as well as those law enforcement agencies and multi agency groups that request counterdrug investigative support. The ISC staff has responded to all levels of law enforcement by investing in and continually developing the intelligence function, integrating the positions of the Intelligence Analyst and Systems Analyst, emphasizing the customer service function of the Deconfliction/Inquiry Desk and the acquisition and development of effective databases and systems such as SAFETNet. The ISC has instituted the non-traditional approach of having an Intelligence Analyst man the Inquiry/Deconfliction Desk, with access to all ISC resources and investigative software, Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. as well as on weekends. Deconfliction is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Analysts capitalize on their core competencies: skilled investigative software techniques, comprehensive knowledge of agency databases and relationships developed from the multi agency environment fostered at the Chicago HIDTA. The application of Arc View Mapping, visual link charts and the creation of databases in support of Title III investigations has become a model in the Chicago area law enforcement community. Within the first nine months of 2004, eight Chicago HIDTA analysts have supported over thirty wiretap investigations and over forty pen registers.

Innovative data sets and agency databases are constantly being pursued. The ISC recently obtained the Police Computer Aided Dispatch (PCAD) which is the Chicago 911 Emergency Communications System, and uses it to augment the SAFETNet Pointer Deconfliction System. All location and target submissions are checked against the 911 system to check for any criminal activity, enhancing the officer safety feature of the system. The ISC has also recently acquired CIMIS, the Cook County Inmate Management System. This database provides data on inmates, including visitor lists and photos. The addition of PCAD and CIMIS to existing resources has proved to be invaluable.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, United States Attorney's Office, United States Marshal's Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Postal Inspection Service.

State: Illinois State Police, Office of the Illinois Attorney General, Illinois National Guard, State of Illinois State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor's Office, Illinois Department of Corrections, Illinois Secretary of State Police.

Local: Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Cook County Department of Corrections, Cook County Forest Preserve Police, Cook County Sheriff's Police Department, Grundy County Sheriff's Department, Kendall County Sheriff's Department, Will County Sheriff's Department, Bolingbrook P.D., Chicago P.D., Chicago Heights P.D., Cicero P.D., Dolton P.D., Joliet P.D., Lockport P.D., Matteson P.D., Oswego P.D., Palatine P.D., Plainfield P.D., Plano P.D., Posen P.D., Romeoville P.D., Round Lake P.D., Tinley Park P.D., University Park P.D., Wilmington P.D., Yorkville P.D.

Significant Achievements:


In 2004 Chicago HIDTA became a proprietary owner of the state of the art Pointer/Deconfliction program known as SAFETNet. Chicago HIDTA then examined the pointer/deconfliction needs of the Great Lakes region with a view to addressing not only the counter drug focus, but also those of general crime and homeland security. Chicago HIDTA has made the SAFETNet program available at no cost to law enforcement in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The HIDTA's in each of these states have agreed to participate as watch centers for their region in order to maximize effectiveness and minimize expenses in the region.

In Illinois, the Chicago HIDTA pointer/deconfliction coverage has expanded from five counties to coverage for the entire state. The Illinois State Police have fully committed to the use of SAFETNet, creating their own watch centers to assist the HIDTA. The network is now accessible to law enforcement in Illinois through RISSNet, the ISP network and the Chicago Police Department I-CLEAR Network, which has become the state-wide network for booking and LEADS access. The Chicago HIDTA Deconfliction Center will become a participant in the National Virtual Pointer System in November of 2004.


Case Number – OCEDTF I1-01-0367: In October 2002, the HIDTA West Side Heroin Initiative, comprised of personnel from the Chicago Police Department, Drug Enforcement Agency and Illinois Department of Corrections, focused on the “Open Air Drug Market” (OADM) distribution of heroin on the West Side of the City of Chicago. The Vice Lords street gang was identified as the oldest and largest distributor of the drug in that area. The Mafia Insane Vice Lord faction (MIVL) was targeted due to their organized involvement, use of violence, and control of over fifty OADM locations. Federal wiretaps were initiated resulting in the interception of over 42,000 calls leading to additional targets. Numerous undercover purchases were made from MIVL drug spots for both heroin and cocaine. Documentary evidence was obtained from garbage pulls and extensive surveillances were conducted. At the culmination of the investigation in May of 2004 the “round-up” resulted in federal charges against 47 defendants and various state charges against an additional 55 defendants, all street gang members. As of late September 2004, 75 of these individuals have been arrested – the remainder are fugitives.

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Last Updated: January 31, 2004