“El Chapo” Guzman, reputed kingpin of the Sinaloa Mexican Drug Cartel, has been designated as Public Enemy No. 1 by the Chicago Crime Commission.  Guzman joins Al Capone as only the second gangster in the city’s history to be labeled as a Public Enemy No. 1.  Guzman, who to anyone’s knowledge has never stepped foot in Chicago, is nonetheless implicated in the city’s escalating homicides as his Sinaloa Cartel supplies most of the drugs used in the windy city. Drug proceeds have given “El Chapo” a net worth over a billion dollars.  (Click here for complete story.)

“What Al Capone was to beer and whiskey, Guzman is to narcotics,” said Al Bilek, the commission’s executive vice president, describing Guzman as a greater threat than Capone ever was.   DEA Chicago Agent Jack Riley takes it a step further.  “If I was to put those two guys in a ring, El Chapo would eat that guy (Capone) alive,” Riley said.

No one doubts that Guzman is a vicious killer.  It is also beyond dispute that drugs supplied by his cartel are the fuel for the city’s horrendous violence.  But the lessons of Al Capone and alcohol prohibition seem to have been lost on the authorities.  What brought an end to the Capone era of gang violence?  It wasn’t Elliot Ness and his crew cracking down on the bootleggers.  Nor was it putting Capone, the original Public Enemy No. 1, in jail for tax evasion.  It was the end of alcohol prohibition and the loss of billions of dollars in “beer and whiskey” revenue that supported the mob activity.

The naming of “El Chapo” as Public Enemy No. 1 is more a public relations move than any real strategy to take down his cartel.  One can imagine Guzman and his cronies raising a toast to his new status as Public Enemy No. 1.  The impact on Chicago’s drug-related violence will be zero.  Even if a modern day Elliot Ness was to machine gun Guzman into oblivion, the drug market would continue on with the next “kingpin” in charge.

Can we end drug prohibition and choke off the billions of dollars in drug money that supports Guzman and his cartel?  The answer is an emphatic yes.  Pot proceeds constitute 60% of the cartel’s income and the step of legalizing marijuana would take that revenue away from Guzman and his killers.  Other drug policy reform steps can further choke off the drug proceeds that support the cartel, reducing the violence in Chicago and ending the flow of money  making thugs like Guzman billionaires.