Latin Kings targeted in drug bust

September 24, 2008 3:31:04 PM PDT
Dozens of Chicago gang members were arrested in a federal crackdown on drug trafficking on the city's Southwest Side. The investigation began four years ago and targeted dealers in the Little Village neighborhood.The charges are against 40 members of what the federal government calls the highly-organized and powerful Latin Kings street gang. Police say many suspects, who face either federal or state charges, are allegedly high-ranking gang members on the South Side.

The investigation involved an alleged gang leader turned informant

For years, the Latin Kings street gang has been dominant in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. The federal government says 30-year-old Vicente Garcia is one of the gang's regional leaders. He and 39 others were charged Wednesday for drug trafficking in a case that the feds and Chicago police say is a major blow against the gang's leadership organization.

"By doing this, we essentially eliminated the entire command and control structure of the Latin Kings in the little village neighborhood. And if you extrapolate that over seven regions, this investigation by the charges today, eliminated about one seventh of the command and control structure of the Latin Kings in Chicago," said Robert Grant, F.B.I. Chicago.

The four-year joint FBI and Chicago police investigation involved an informant known as CW1. According to the federal complaint, the informant was a Latin Kings gang member since 1993 and was responsible for security and looking out for law enforcement at gang meetings.

"One of the things they did was they used an enforcer to make sure that no one showed up at the meeting wearing a wire. And we are here today largely because the person they assigned to check for wires wore a wire himself," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

As a result, 40 alleged gang members were charged Wednesday. Twenty-nine of the suspects were picked up earlier Wednesday morning; many of the arrests were made in the Little Village neighborhood. Police continue to look for 11 more people, including Garcia.

Alderman Ricardo Munoz, 22nd Ward, says the arrests are a welcome move....

"It reduces the amount of guns and drugs that are on the street. And at the end of the day, these thugs need to know they can't be preying on our young men and women in our neighborhood," said Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 22nd Ward.

According to FBI officials, video and audio surveillance was used in the investigation.

Several of the alleged gang members who were taken into custody on Wednesday will appear in court Thursday.


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