Alvarez in the News
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New Law Becomes First-of-its Kind to Target Organized Gang Activity
Office of the State's Attorney
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez joined Governor Pat Quinn Monday for the signing of the “Illinois Street Gang and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Law”
(Street Gang Rico), which was written by her office and for the first time will enable local prosecutors to investigate and indict gang cases applying the tools of “Rico” a charge typically utilized in federal prosecutions.
“For the first time in the history of our state, this new law will give local prosecutors the tools to identify and address patterns in multiple gang-related offenses and join different organized crime offenses and different offenders into a single court proceeding,” Alvarez said.
“Prior to the signing of this bill, state prosecutors were typically only able to charge individual gang crimes and rarely, if ever, were able to prosecute and hold gang leaders accountable for the organized activities of the street gang and its rank-and-file members,” Alvarez said.
The “Street Gang Rico” law will target gang organizations engaged in a pattern of crimes involving violence such as illegal weapons, sex-offenses, terrorism, and drug trafficking. In this way, different organized crime offenses and offenders may be joined into a single proceeding, and prosecutors can target the structure of the criminal organization itself and allow judges and juries to hear and see a complete picture of the overall criminal activity of the gang and its leadership.
With passage of the new law, Alvarez also said she will create a new “Racketeering Unit” within her office that will include specially trained Assistant State’s Attorneys who will be made available to train other prosecutors from State’s Attorney’s offices around the state. The prosecutors in the State’s Attorney’s Racketeering Unit will undergo intensive training on the best practices and principles of Racketeering and Rico prosecutions and they will build and handle cases prosecuted by the office under the new law.
Alvarez thanked Governor Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, State Senator Tony Munoz and State Representative Michael Zalewski for their support in getting the new law enacted.
“This new law will require fundamental changes in the way that state prosecutors approach gang crimes because the crime of racketeering has not existed under Illinois law in any meaningful shape or form,” Alvarez said.