A few days ago, the Chicago Crime Commission held a press conference to declare Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman the city’s Public Enemy No. 1.
This is a storied, if dubious, honor. The last person to win that title in Chicago was Al Capone in 1930 during Prohibition. Chicago’s crime fighters said in a release that “up until now (they) had yet to witness a criminal worthy of the same moniker.”
They now deem Guzman (has he ever set foot in the Windy City?) worthy.
He “is accused of having used Chicago as his drug trafficking hub for the Midwest, allegedly having trafficked 1,500 to 2,000 kilograms of cocaine through Chicago per month,” the release said.
Anti-drug officials laid it on thick.
"In my opinion, Guzman is the new Al Capone of Chicago. His ability to corrupt and enforce his sanctions with his endless supply of revenue is more powerful than Chicago's Italian organized crime gang," said John Riley, the DEA’s special agent in charge in Chicago.
The Crime Commission’s president, J.R. Davis, called Guzman “one of society's most vicious, ruthless and powerful individuals."
Commission Executive Vice President Arthur Bilek added: "Because of the direct link between the violence of the street gangs and the narcotics business, it can be said that Guzman's fingerprints are on the guns used in many of the shootings plaguing Chicago today.”
Let me add another possible motive for finding a new Public Enemy No. 1. Chicago’s murder rates are skyrocketing. Some 535 people were killed there last year, up sharply from 2011’s 433 murders. So far, 2013 is shaping up as bloody as 2012. According to this story, Chicago is a deadlier place now than during Al Capone’s gangland era.
Perhaps crime fighters need an external enemy to blame the spate of murders on rather than draw attention to their flawed strategy in slowing down the homicide rate.