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Gang Problem Growing, Seeping Into Suburbs, Authorities Say

(CBS) -- It may be no surprise to hear Chicago has street gangs, but how many, might shock you.

The latest numbers show nearly 60 gangs, and within those gangs, roughly 600 factions. That presents quite the challenge for law enforcement.

Those statistics were at the heart of multi-state summit held Friday in Oak Brook.

CBS 2's Mai Martinez reports.

"Here in the Midwest, we've got anywhere between 80,000 and 100,000 documented gang members. We're also the hub for the Sinaloa cartel, the Mexicans' strongest cartel," says Jack Riley of the DEA's Chicago division.

That's why law enforcement from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin gathered to address the problem and come up with ideas to fight it.

"You've got the Mexican cartels on the one hand providing the narcotics that the gangs are putting on the streets," Riley says. "And then if you throw in what appears to be sometimes an endless supply of illegal guns, you really have the perfect storm."

That perfect storm is becoming more and more violent.

"When we put leadership away, there's a leadership vacuum. There are no elders, and everyone's fighting for their own turf,"  Riley says. "And there's no discipline, and the way they regulate themselves is by the barrel of a gun."

Strangely, the combination of violence and enforcement is driving gang members from the cities to the suburbs, turning gang-members into suburbanites, Joe Ways of the Chicago Crime Commission says.

Gang members also like the suburbs because smaller police departments aren't as familiar with dealing with organized crime or they lack the resources they need.

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