Cheap heroin flowing across American borders and wars between cartels are behind the rise in homicides in many large American cities, a think tank found in a report Monday.
An Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) report in May found that a spike in the murder rate of more than 20 cities. “I don’t know what the answer is, but holy cow, do we have a problem,” FBI Director Jim Comey said at the time.
At the current pace Chicago will finish the year with 550 homicides. Chicago is also home to two rival cartels the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran-Levya cartel. This is the premise of the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) study, that cities with more than one cartel are those with the highest murder rate.
The AEI report found that in the 21 of 25 cities they analyzed the pattern of more cartels equaling more crime held true. Las Vegas, one of the cities which has experienced a large spike in murders, is home to three cartels.
Mexican cartels are currently embroiled in violence, especially after Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s capture which has led to fractures in the Sinaloa Cartel. At the same time, cheap heroin has been entering the United States and heroin usage is at a 20 year high. The recent UN report found that heroin related deaths have increased five-fold since 2000.
Mexican cartels has wrestled control of the United States heroin market from Colombia and now controls it. This was through a change in recipe.
“To take control of the US East Coast market, it changed its product to satisfy local consumers who never used coffee-colored or black heroin, which is what is traditionally produced in Mexico,” Douglas W. Coleman, head of the Arizona division of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said to Proceso magazine in May.
At the same time Mexico has taken control of the market their organizations have become more fractured. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley testified in a May 26 Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing that Mexican cartels “are not nearly as strong or monolithic as they once were.”