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El Chapo's cartel, Chicago fentanyl market targeted by new DEA operation

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Drug Enforcement Administration officials have launched Project Wave Breaker in an effort to stop the surge of fentanyl deaths both in Chicago and nationwide.

Video Transcript

CHUCK GOUDIE: Allan, Federal Drug Enforcement officials tonight launching Project Wave Breaker in an effort to stop the surge of fentanyl deaths. The majority of almost 90,000 opioid overdoses in the US, and about 1800 in Chicago and Cook County, are tied to fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin and too often a fatal high.

BOB BELL: 1 kilogram could potentially kill 500,000 people.

CHUCK GOUDIE: A kilo of pure fentanyl could fit in your back pocket, according to investigators, and is worth a $1.5 million on the street. It's small, deadly, and highly profitable for the Sinaloa cartel, formerly owned and operated by this man, Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo. He's in prison for life in the US, but authorities say his sons run the cartel in Mexico, and control fentanyl sales in Chicago and 10 other American cities pummeled by overdose deaths. Tonight, Chicago's top drug crime fighter tells the I-team, each city will receive an influx of federal money to help police the problem.

BOB BELL: That will help us interrupt the supply of fentanyl in the country, go back, and disrupt and dismantle portions of the Sinaloa cartel. And I do have to say that the fentanyl problem just connects the drug overdose problem to the violence with the cartels in Mexico, and also connects the overdose deaths right here in the US and in Chicago to the violent street organizations distributing fentanyl.

CHUCK GOUDIE: On the other side of the crisis tonight, Chicago's Public Health Director helps tackle the human toll.

ALLISON ARWADY: I'm really concerned about it, like, especially where we're seeing more and more of this fentanyl, and people who are overdosing who may not have, right, based on before we were seeing such high levels or such potency with the fentanyl. There's a lot of need and we are working. We're working with Chicago Fire Department. We're working with community based organizations in terms of wanting to make sure that after somebody has overdosed, what are we doing in terms of follow-up there.

CHUCK GOUDIE: Even as the Sinaloa cartel supplies fentanyl in Chicago, it's another cartel, New Generation as it's known, that dominates heroin and cocaine sales here, according to federal drug agents. A potentially violent clash of drug-Titans could occur if those two cartels fight over fentanyl. The DEA says essentially cartels go where the money is, and right now the money is in fentanyl's powerful allure and huge--