Maps of the U.S. flashed across the screen with lines showing the flow of illegal drugs. The maps looked like a jumble, but Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dale Navarro clarified what it all meant.
“We are a hub, all the drugs come through Chicago,” he said during a forum Monday at Ela Area Public library. Chicago is the primary route for heroin and cannabis, which ultimately affects Lake County’s drug trade, he said.
Where drugs come from is important to know as the county’s drug epidemic intensifies, Navarro said.
The Sinaloa Cartel supplies 80 percent of drugs to the area, he said. Sinaloa is located in a Northwestern Mexico. Drugs are a $3 billion business in Chicago alone, with heroin, cocaine and marijuana being Cartel’s primary markets, he said.
Chicago was just named murder capital of American for its murder rate in 2012, he said. The violence is tied to street gangs, which distribute the drugs across the region, even in Lake County.
“If you don’t think what happens in Chicago doesn’t affect us in Lake County, you are lying to yourself,” he said.
“Did anybody know these facts? It’s important to know because we are facing a serious battle,” he said.
Street gangs in Lake County aren’t blatantly selling on street corners, the gangs are being sneaky and not trying to attract attention, he said. But dealers have a marketing strategy.
“The dope dealer will give it away to our kids. At the end of the week, they own that soul,” Navarro said.
Tackling supply and demand
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said the sheriff’s office has a two-prong approach to deal with the epidemic focusing on targeting suppliers while trying to cut demand by educating the community about the dangers.
“We are gathering intelligence, we are going after the top levels (of street gangs) and we are doing a great job,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we can go after street gangs, but if there is a demand, more street gangs will take the risk,” Curran said.
Ultimately, trying to control demand is hard because people have free will, he said.