CHICAGO (WLS) --Thirty-six alleged members of the Latin Kings street gang were charged Tuesday, accused of participating in a criminal organization that violently acted to protect its territories in Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana, federal authorities announced.
"I think it's a major set-back for the Latin Kings nation operating in this region," said U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon during a press conference in Chicago.
Two newly unsealed indictments follow a multi-year probe, which included a recent raid in Whiting, Ind., and alleges that gang members violently enforced discipline within its ranks and retaliated against rivals and former members to prevent cooperation with law enforcement, federal officials said.
READ INDICTMENT 1
READ INDICTMENT 2
Those charged are accused of murder, attempted murder, assault with dangerous weapons, arson and extortion, according to the indictments.
The charges include the attempted murders of rival gang members and a Melrose Park police officer in 2014.
The 34 individuals were charged with racketeering conspiracy. A 35th alleged Latin Kings member is charged with selling a firearm without a license. The 36th defendant is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
On Tuesday, officials used a map with yellow dots showing that the gang activities spanned Southeast Chicago, the south suburbs, the western suburbs of Maywood and Melrose Place, as well as the northwest Indiana.
"I still run into people who think that these criminal organizations, like the Latin Kings, are a Chicago problem," said David Capp, U.S. Attorney for Northern Indiana. "You will see that it's a regional problem."
The multi-jurisdiction investigation started in 2013.
"Hopefully this case today will increase the community's awareness of the FBI's commitment to combat violent crime," said Michael Anderson, Chicago FBI special agent in charge.
Authorities said the gang operated like a corporation -- with regions, chapters and a hierarchy - that engaged in gun running, extortion and sex trafficking.
"This serves as a warning to others that we will continue to come at them with everything we have," said Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
During the course of the multi-year probes, law enforcement agents confiscated more than 40 firearms, including two AR-15 assault rifles.