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Public Enemy No. 1: 'El Chapo' Guzman Knocks off Al Capone

By Geoff Ziezulewicz | February 14, 2013 11:47am

CHICAGO — Move over Al Capone.

Chicago’s got a new Public Enemy No. 1

For the first time since 1930, the Chicago Crime Commission on Thursday named a new baddest of the bad — notorious Sinaloa drug cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera.

From a remote Mexican mountain surrounded by hordes of acolytes, Guzman controls a vast drug empire that spans the globe and reaches to the Chicago streets.

He is "the single greatest criminal operator in the world today," Arthur Bilek, the commission's executive vice president, said.

More than 90 percent of the marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illicit narcotics being peddled in Chicago are supplied by the Sinaloa, according to Jack Riley, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Most Chicago violence is tied to gangs battling over the drug trade, Riley said. That means Guzman's hands are wet with the city's blood.

"There is a direct line between him and the violence in the streets," he said.

South of the border, he has a reputation as a ruthless and elusive criminal mastermind.

Parts of Mexico have devolved into a state of war, with Guzman calling the shots in numerous cities and states. Officials who won’t be bought off are killed, and citizens regularly awake to tortured, mutilated corpses on their streets.

Thursday marked the 84th anniversary of the infamous "St. Valentine's Day Massacre," when seven members of gangster Bugs Moran's crew were gunned down in a garage at 2122 N. Clark St. The slaughter paved the way for Capone to get a stranglehold on Chicago's underworld.

But, despite Capone's notorious past, Guzman's crimes eclipse Capone's, Bilek said.

Guzman received the Public Enemy No. 1 designation “because of the viciousness, because of the evil, and because of the power of this man,” Bilek said. "What Al Capone was to beer and whiskey during Prohibition, Guzman is to narcotics."

But, he added, "Guzman is by far the greater threat."