CHICAGO – A drug kingpin in Mexico who has never set foot in Chicago has been named the city’s new Public Enemy No. 1 – the same notorious label assigned to Al Capone at the height of the Prohibition-era gang wars.
The Chicago Crime Commission announced the move Thursday, saying it considers Joaquin El Chapo Guzman even more menacing than Capone because he’s the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which supplies most of the narcotics sold in the city.
What Al Capone was to beer and whiskey during Prohibition, Guzman is to narcotics, said Art Bilek, the commission’s executive vice president. Of the two, Guzman is by far the greater threat. ... And he has more power and financial capability than Capone ever dreamed of.
The commission – a non-government body that tracks city crime trends – designated Capone Public Enemy No. 1 in 1930. It has declared other outlaws public enemies, but Capone was the only one deemed No. 1. Until now.
Guzman is thought to be holed up and guarded by a personal army in a Mexican mountain hideaway. And there’s nothing to indicate he’s ever been anywhere near Chicago, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which joined the commission in affixing the title to Guzman.
Still, for all practical purposes, Guzman should be treated as a local Chicago crime boss for the havoc his cartel creates in the nation’s third-largest city, said the head of the DEA’s Chicago office, Jack Riley.
Capone based his bootlegging and other criminal enterprises in Chicago during Prohibition, when it was illegal to sell alcohol in the U.S. Yet Riley said Guzman – whose nickname means shorty in Spanish – is more ruthless than Capone, whose nickname was Scarface.
Riley described Chicago as one of Sinaloa’s most important cities, not only as a final destination for drugs but as a hub to distribute them across the U.S.
Bilek said Thursday that cartel-led trafficking is an underlying cause of territorial battles between street gangs that are responsible for rising homicide rates.
Guzman virtually has his fingerprints on the guns that are killing the children of this city, Bilek told a news conference.
The cartel leader, who has been in hiding since escaping from a Mexican prison in a laundry cart in 2001, is one of the world’s most dangerous and most wanted fugitives. He’s also one of the richest: Forbes magazine has estimated his fortune at $1 billion.
Now in his mid-50s, Guzman has been indicted on federal trafficking charges in Chicago. The U.S. government has offered a $5 million reward for his capture.