(KMOV.com) - The DEA says the heroin flooding the streets of St. Louis can be tied directly to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel out of Mexico and it's former kingpin "El Chapo" Guzman, a drug lord so influential in America that he was once called Public Enemy No. 1 in Chicago.
Jack Riley, who was the Special Agent In Charge of the DEA's regional office in Chicago told News 4 the Sinaloa Cartel brings heroin and cocaine to the United States, using Chicago as their hub. Local gangs then distribute it throughout the Midwest, including cities such as St. Louis.
Now drug units in the St. Louis area are finding a dramatic increase in heroin use, drug overdoses, and heroin related arrests. Riley says eighty percent of the heroin and cocaine in the Midwest is connected to the Sinaloa Cartel.
“The real reason it has happened is that the cartels recognized the market,” said Riley.
Riley says the heroin market is fueled by users who can't afford costly pain killers that he believes are often overprescribed. The pill users may choose cheaper heroin which has become much stronger in recent years. He believes criminal organizations made it that way so it would attract new users and create a bigger market.
The local market shows no sign of slowing down. In just the last few years, St. Louis County police have doubled the number of arrests for heroin. Even though the Sinaloa Cartel's leader was captured, the drugs continue to flow.