APNewsBreak: Kan. gang members charged under RICO
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors on Friday announced racketeering and other charges against a Kansas gang under a 1970 law originally designed to prosecute the Mafia.
The grand jury indictment against 23 suspected members of the Norteno gang in Dodge City accuses four of those men with murdering a man in June 2009 and attempting to murder at least three others. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the indictment after it was unsealed Friday but before its public release by prosecutors in Dodge City.
The gang is charged under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, which allows prosecutors to charge individual members as part of a larger criminal organization. In recent years, the act has been used to prosecute human trafficking and gang cases, including charges in 2007 against 28 members of the Crips gang in Wichita -- which was the first time RICO was used against gangs in Kansas.
Prosecutors say the Nortenos created a climate of fear through violence and threats of violence to defend the gang's reputation and territory and promote its drug trafficking activities.
"This indictment sends a message," U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a news release before Friday's official announcement. "Dodge City residents shall not live in fear. Our streets are not a war zone. Gangs of armed men will not be permitted to prey on the weak or to exchange fire while the rest of us scramble for cover."
Grissom, who was in Dodge City to announce the charges, said the indictment is the result of a two-year investigation with the Dodge City Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.