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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Illinois County Sues Felonious Street Gang

CHICAGO (CN) - The Spanish Vice Lords street gang has cost Illinois money and energy by dealing drugs, robbing and toting guns in a city north of Chicago, one county claims in court.

Kane County, Ill., State's Attorney Joseph McMahon, on behalf of Illinois and its northern city of Elgin, sued the Spanish Vice Lords street gang and 16 alleged members - whose names police reportedly gathered - in Kane County Circuit Court on March 18.

It is the fourth such lawsuit McMahon has filed, having sued the Elgin Latin Kings in 2010, the Aurora Latin Kings in 2012, and the Elgin Maniac Latin Disciples in 2013, according to a press release from his office.

"These lawsuits are an example of the proactive work we can do to take a bite out of gang activity to make our streets safer for law-abiding citizens, and also drive these criminal gangs out of our communities," McMahon said in a statement. "We are pleased with the effectiveness of the previous lawsuits, and we will continue to seek opportunities to improve the quality of life for the people of Kane County."

The goal of last week's lawsuit is "to dramatically reduce the gang's criminal activities by impeding members' abilities to freely operate within the community," the press release states.

The 11-page complaint says the defendants committed at least two gang-related criminal offenses, at least one after the 1993 Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act came into effect.

The lawsuit cites the individual defendants' alleged "self-admission as to membership" in the gang, as well as prior guilty pleas and convictions, and "observations where they displayed Spanish Vice Lords gang tattoos, gang colors, and gang symbols."

McMahon alleges 24 separate offenses that occurred from 2009 to October 2015, including eight gun-related and six drug-related felonies, such as possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to deliver, the complaint states.

The state's attorney also claims defendant Anthony Salazar committed the felony of "mob action" by using "force and violence" to disturb the public peace in Kane County on Oct. 30, 2015.

The complaint alleges an armed robbery, three burglaries - including one at Kane County's Larsen Middle School in 2012 - and two incidents of theft between 2012 and 2014.

Plus, defendant Anthony Galarza allegedly committed the felony of witness harassment "through threat of causing the person bodily harm in Kane County" in September 2012.

The lawsuit further claims that defendants Isaac Aguirre and Ivan and Aldo Barajas each made unlawful contact with a gang member in Kane County between 2011 and 2015.

The above crimes were allegedly committed with the intent to increase the gang's size, as well as its "prestige, dominance, or control in any geographical area."

The gang also used the crimes to gain control "over any criminal market sector, including but not limited to, the manufacture, delivery, or sale of controlled substances or cannabis; or that involves robbery, burglary, or theft," according to the complaint.

The crimes were meant to "exact revenge or retribution for the gang" as well as "obstruct justice, or intimidate or eliminate any witness against the gang," the lawsuit alleges.

Alleged gang members' actions have "caused injury to the public health and safety" of Illinois and Elgin citizens and "have required the expenditure of great sums of money and energy to triage, treat, transport, investigate, pursue, capture, detain, and prosecute all defendants," the complaint states.

McMahon seeks an injunction barring the defendants from congregating in public, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

The complaint also names Jose Charles, Jose Diaz, Rene Espino, Alejandro Fabela, Gehovani Gomez, Manuel Jasso, Miguel Lara, Rodrigo Lara, Jose Maldonado, Luis Martinez, Jason Rodriguez, and unidentified gang members as defendants.

The initial case management date is reportedly set for July 5 in downtown Geneva, Ill.

The defendants could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Located about 40 miles northwest of Chicago, Elgin has an estimated population of more than 111,000 people, out of Kane County's roughly 527,000 residents.

Elgin is 42.6 percent "white alone," 7.4 percent black and 43.6 percent Hispanic or Latino, with a median household income of about $60,000, according to census data.

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