Heroin LLC: From Mexico, Across the Border, to Chicago and Beyond

Chicago has become one of America's most important distribution centers for illegal narcotics. Law enforcement says the Sinaloa cartel effectively has a monopoly over heroin and methamphetamine moving from Mexico to Chicago. But even with the recent arrest of its leader, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, this almost century-old drug route is unlikely to change much.

 

border2.jpg

CIR reporter G.W. Schulz (L) talks with Reveal host Al Letson (R).
The cities of El Paso, Texas and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico stretch beneath them.


Al Letson travels to El Paso, Texas, to meet up with G.W. Schulz, CIR's border and national security reporter, to get a bird's-eye view of what happens as drugs and other goods pass over one of the world's busiest border crossings.

See just how many drugs were seized by the Border Patrol between 2005 and 2011 in this interactive map.

 

Then we go to Chicago to reveal in detail exactly how the business of drugs operates and continues to dominate neighborhoods and economies. Heroin LLC, a yearlong investigation by Chicago Public Media's WBEZ and the Chicago Reader, breaks down the big business of drugs from El Paso to Chicago's south and west sides, to the suburbs and across the Midwest. We hear from transportation coordinators who specialize in moving high volumes of heroin, longtime dealers who spill the secrets to cutting drugs to extend profit margins, and users and addicts trapped in a deadly spiral, desperate to find new users.

Read the investigation from WBEZ and the Chicago Reader.