New law aims to crack down on Kansas gangs - KCTV5

New law aims to crack down on Kansas gangs

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OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -

Police could soon have a new tool to crack down on gangs in Kansas.

RICO: it stands for Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations.

It's a law that identifies organized crime and holds everyone in the group, including the head honcho, accountable for individual deeds of underlings.

Now, local police can make a similar case for less splashy crimes that still have a big impact on local neighborhoods.

Seated along the Canada to Mexico corridor of Interstate 35, Olathe and other Johnson County cities present a unwelcome opportunity for gangs looking to expand.

Capt. Grant Allen, with Olathe Police Department's Gang Unit, said painting over gang graffiti is a constant struggle, and a sign that youngsters in the city are either in gangs or curious about them.

"For the last six or seven years, we've been very proactive with the prevention piece with schools and prevention programs in the schools," Allen said.

Allen is hoping the new RICO law will add a punishment component that further discourages gangs from setting up shop.

Famous racketeering cases using the federal RICO law include Mafia cases like that of the Gambino crime family, white-collar crimes like that of financier Michael Milken and even Major League Baseball, which eventually went to arbitration.

It was used recently to prosecute 23 gang members and leaders in Dodge City, KS, connected to multiple homicides, and in Wichita to go after a gang-related drug dealing operation.

But the federal government only accepts select cases.

The Kansas law would make room for cases involving smaller scale crimes that still have a significant cumulative impact on the community in question.

"Imagine you have an organized street gang entity that is making money off of running a relatively low level but widespread drug distribution operation.  (And) it is feeding its habit and supporting its bottom line with thefts and burglaries that are relatively low level, but together, they are numerous and they affect many people," Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Schmidt said that is really what RICO is all about.

"That is the whole idea here is that in those targeted cases.  We can now move up the food chain, get to the folks who are calling the shots for this pattern of criminal activity and get them off the streets," Schmidt said.

Unlike the federal law, the new Kansas law is limited to organized street gangs, human trafficking, and drug dealing.

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