Confronting the Growing Illegal Trade in Drugs, Tobacco and Human Trafficking in Illinois

By IllinoisChannelTV

Originally posted on

We speak with Kristin Reif, Director of External Affairs at Phillip Morris International, which is joining with other organizations to connect the dots and tell the story of how fraudulent and illegal sales of drugs, cigarettes, heroin, and human trafficking is feeding the power and threat of international cartels operating within American cities, with Chicago being a major hub of their operations.

The story behind the exposition in violence in Chicago is not a story of guns, but of organized crime operating on a massive scale. Their treasuries are fueled by drug sales, illegal tobacco sales, in which just ONE 18-wheeler carry untaxed cigarettes can provide over $4 million dollars in profits. Add to that, the illegal trading of human lives. Human trafficking is big business in Illinois, feeding a demand for sex slavery or unpaid/low paid workers, working long hours for little to no pay.

According to the former Acting Director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Matt Albence, Chicago is the major hub for the delivery and transshipment of drugs throughout the Great Lakes Region and the Midwest.

Three major types of trafficking groups are responsible for most of the drugs in Illinois. Mexican polydrug organizations, Colombian DTOs trafficking in cocaine and South American (SA) heroin, and Nigerian groups trafficking in Southeast Asian (SEA) heroin are the major transporters and wholesale distributors of drugs in Chicago. Commercial trucks, passenger vehicles, package delivery services, air packages or couriers, and railways are the most common means traffickers use to transport drugs into Chicago.

Now organizations including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Illinois Manufacturing Association and others are joined by Philip Morris International, to raise awareness of the issues and inform those in and out of government of the threat posed to fraudulent products from cigarettes, to pharmaceuticals, to the spread of fentanyl, which has already killed over 50,000 Americans in recent years.

Philip Morris International is helping by their partnering with other corporations, who together have created a web portal for more information: USAIT.ORG

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