Crack Cocaine: A Profitable Business in Illinois

drug crimes

The crack cocaine industry in Chicago is thriving, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) who released its Drug Threat Assessment for the state of Illinois. Illinois is one of the largest states in the nation with approximately 13 million residents, therefore, being centrally located; Chicago is a central hub from which to export drugs to surrounding states.

 Some of the main areas identified as sources of powdered cocaine into Chicago, are Texas California and Florida. Along with a couple of north-south routes, Arkansas' I-40 corridor spans the state from west to east. Many individuals are apprehended on I-40 annually as they travel through the natural state on their way north to Chicago, where their cargo is unloaded, processed and distributed as crack. The NDIC (2001) reported that "Treatment admissions for cocaine abuse in Illinois more than doubled between 1990 and 1997 and have stabilized at a high level."(p.iii). There is no shortage of crack in Chicago, therefore, the problem can only be expected to intensify until the flow of the base product, powdered cocaine, can be stopped; a lofty goal at best.

Law enforcement officials reported that the low price of one rock of crack cocaine was just $10 in 2001, and that was a clear indication of not only the mass availability of powdered cocaine, but also its purity. To illustrate this example of abundant supply; "the largest drug seizure in Chicago history took place in February 1999 when the Chicago Police Department confiscated over 1,100 kilograms of cocaine (street value $143 million) in the suburb of Crestwood" (NDIC, 2001, p.7).

One of the primary reasons the drug trade in Chicago is such a prosperous industry, is the massive volume of commercial freight which passes through the state. There are simply not enough resources to monitor commercial and private vehicles in a state which sees over $800 billion worth of legitimate freight each passing through it each year. (NDIC, 2001, p.1). Columbians are apparently the primary suppliers of powdered cocaine into the United States, and with the help of mostly Mexican associates, they are successful in shipping billions of dollars worth of the drug each year. Oftentimes, the shipments are broken into smaller bundles to minimize detection, as well as cutting the risk of losing large amounts of the drug in one bust.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, most of the offenders bringing the drugs into the country are paid off with cocaine instead of money, giving the Mexican groups themselves an ample supply for processing into crack. The trafficking system is highly functional too; "Mexican DTOs employ brokers based in Arizona, southern California, and south Texas to transport cocaine from the Southwest Border area to Chicago"(NDIC, 2001, p.9). It is evident that the business of trafficking illegal drugs continues to be a problem for law enforcement officials and members of the public.

Chicago, like Little Rock, has a high rate of violent crime, a growing number of students abusing and becoming addicted to crack cocaine, and an alarming number of babies being born who test positive for the substance. Sadly, the situation is expected to become worse before it gets better, but how much worse? Being a central hub of the United States, there seems to be no remedy at all for this problem.


National Drug Intelligence Center. (2003). Arkansas Drug Threat Assessment. Retrieved March 2009, from United States Department of Justice:

National Drug Intelligence Center. (2001). Illinois Drug Threat Assessment. Retrieved March 2009, from United States Department of Justice:


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