Law enforcement authorities say Mexican drug cartel operatives who once stuck close to the U.S.-Mexico border are establishing a greater presence in the Upper Midwest.
They point to the case of Jose Gonzalez-Zavala, who court documents state was dispatched to the United States by the La Familia cartel. The former taxi driver moved into a middle-class neighborhood in Joliet, Ill., in 2008. Court records say that from there, he oversaw wholesale shipments of cocaine in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Wiretap transcripts show Gonzalez-Zavala called unidentified cartel boss in Mexico almost every day to check in and discuss business.
The Drug Enforcement Administration says about 230 American communities reported some level of cartel presence in 2008, but that number had climbed to more than 1,200 by 2011.