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New Illinois Law Seeks to Escalate Gang Prosecution

June 29th, 2012 at 1:21 pm


On June 11th, Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law that will allow local authorities to pursue street gangs.  In a measure that was approved by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the law is known as the Street Gang RICO Law, which stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. Mayor Emanuel said the law would provide a “critical tool that will give local law enforcement the power to prosecute gang leaders for crimes that they ordered others to commit.”


The law is based in part on the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act which assigns heavy penalties for those gang leaders who order hits and other criminal activities.  Through linking isolated crimes with conspiracy charges, much bigger cases can be brought against gang leaders.  The street gang RICO law lists over a dozen of crimes such as murder for hire, kidnapping, hijacking and sex trafficking; it also imposes harder penalties.  The new state law allows for sentences of more than 30 years and fines of up to $250,000 for charges of criminal conspiracy.


Per capita, the greater Chicago area is thought to have the largest gang population in the United States.  Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has stated that the city has 100,000 gang members in over 600 gangs.  He also stated that around 75% to 80% of the areas shootings and homicides are gang-related.  The law is in effect right now, but it is set to expire in 5 years for a legislative review.  The law has found universal support from lawmakers and law enforcement alike due to the breadth of its use.


Working up a RICO case is arduous and very time consuming, but the end result is a far reaching.  Everyone from low-level workers to the top generals in the gang world can be convicted of a vast array of crimes. Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson knows that “but the end result is you are able to take out an illegal organization — in this case, a street gang.  If it takes time to work on that, we are committed to that effort. We are going to use every means possible to eradicate street gangs.”  If you or a loved one are affected by this new law, please contact a devoted criminal defense lawyer in Illinois today.


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