Drug runners, beware.
Calling it the most significant narcotics conspiracy case of its kind ever in Chicago, authorities announced today indictments against leaders of warring Mexican drug cartels -- including the man Forbes listed as the world's 701st biggest billionaire -- who've allegedly carted up to 200 tons of cocaine to Chicago since 1998.
The dope dopes allegedly bring four tons to the city every month.
Thirty-six individuals, including three cartel leaders, were charged in eight indictments unsealed in Chicago, according to the Trib. Additional defendants are expected to be indicted in New York.
Eight defendants were arrested over the past week although current and former alleged kingpins in the organized crime syndicate known as the "Sinaloa Cartel" remain at large, authorities said, according to the Washington Post.
"These are the most significant drug importation conspiracies ever charged in Chicago," Chicago's U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement. "The indictments charge two major international supply organizations with importing many tons of cocaine and quantities of heroin into the United States."
Fitzgerald read the statement with U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder in Washington this morning, where they also announced the effort.
The leaders indicted were Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera, reportedly one of the world's richest men, and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada-Garcia of the Sinaloa cartel. The third man indicted was Arturo Beltran-Leyva, who is allegedly running a faction that split from the main group.
Guzman-Lora is the Forbes lister, and the U.S. has placed a bounty on his head for $5 million.
Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of up to $1.8 billion in cash from the indicted parties. Nearly 3,000 kilograms of cocaine and $20 million in cash have been seized in the Chicago area as part of the investigation.
The Chicago investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.