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Report: Mexican drug cartels now operating in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana


CHICAGO (WTAQ) - Mexican drug cartels that used to stay close to the southern U.S. border have now moved northward into places like Wisconsin.

That’s according to an Associated Press review of federal court cases and drug enforcement data.

One of the more notable cases is that of Jose Gonzalez-Zavala. He’s now serving a 40-year prison term for running a business that sold Mexican cocaine in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

Court documents said he was dispatched to the U.S. by the La Familia cartel, and he moved into a middle class neighborhood in the Chicago suburb of Joliet to start running his business in 2008.

According to federal wiretap transcripts, Gonzalez-Zavala checked in with a cartel leader in Mexico almost every day.

In Chicago, officials say the cartels have fought each other for sales turf, just like street gangs. And it’s apparently why Chicago had over 500 murders last year for the first time since 2008.

Gonzalez-Zavala refused to cooperate with authorities in exchange for a much shorter prison sentence. He said it could have put his family in danger.

The government said Mexican drug cartels had a presence in 230 U.S. communities five years ago – but that number has mushroomed to over 1,200 by 2011.