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RICO used to crack down on gang tied to cop shootings

Cook County State's Attorney AnitAlvarez held news conference Thursday afternowith representatives Chicago Police Department FBI announce results long-term undercover investigatitargeting

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez held a news conference Thursday afternoon with representatives of the Chicago Police Department and the FBI to announce the results of a long-term undercover investigation targeting key members and leaders of a Chicago street gang. June 13, 2013. | Alex Wroblewski~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 16, 2013 6:24AM



CHICAGO — The leaders of a street gang on Chicago’s West Side gang, accused of ruthlessly enforcing a “no-snitch” code and shooting two Chicago police officers in the head in 2011, were arrested Thursday in a massive roundup under a new state racketeering law.

The Black Souls are accused of at least six murders, kidnapping, gun-running and drug dealing. The investigation, called Operation 40 Cal, began in October after the gang allegedly killed a West Side man who complained to the police about illegal activity on his block.

Authorities said the gang is among the most difficult to infiltrate because the leaders use murders to keep witnesses from testifying against them.

Secret recordings earlier this year captured reputed Black Souls chief Cornell “Corn” Dawson saying he held meetings with younger Black Souls to warn them not to cooperate with the police — and was worried he was under investigation for murder, prosecutors said.

“These leaders tend to insulate themselves, and this law helps law enforcement penetrate the veil of secrecy,” Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy said.

Dawson, 38, was among the 41 reputed members charged in Operation 40 Cal.

“This gives us a larger net in order to attack the entire gang,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who appeared with McCarthy and the FBI at a news conference.

The racketeering case accuses the gang of at least six killings dating to 1999. The June 24, 2002, murder of Charles Watson highlights the gang’s use of violence as a disciplinary tool, authorities said.

A member of the Black Souls had accused two lower-ranking members of the gang of stealing money and drugs, authorities said. The two members were beaten and one of them, Watson, died.

Watson was buried upside-down in a yard on the West Side — a killing the gang used over the years to reinforce obedience in the ranks, authorities said.

One Black Souls member allegedly told police that Watson’s murder was an example of the gang’s motto: “Death before dishonor.”

“If you rat out somebody or tell on somebody ... you’ll die,” the member allegedly said in a statement to police.

The racketeering case also included the 1999 murder of Darryl Green. Two reputed Black Souls members — Kevin Mitchell and Dimeyon Cole — were among those charged Sunday with first-degree murder in his death.

They allegedly abducted Green at gunpoint from a west suburban beeper company he owned with his brother. They sought a ransom before driving Green to Gary, Ind., and shooting him.

The racketeering case also accuses the gang of being involved in the shooting of two Chicago Police officers on July 28, 2011.

The officers, Ruben Del Valle and Jeffrey Friedlieb, were patrolling the West Side when they attempted to stop Black Souls members for drug dealing, prosecutors said.

One suspect, Alvis Holley, allegedly fired a shot that grazed Del Valle in the head and another shot that struck his arm. Then Holley shot Friedlieb in the head and the bullet lodged behind his ear, where it still remains, prosecutors said.

Both officers survived their wounds. Holley is in the Cook County Jail on attempted murder charges, records show.

Operation 40 Cal was the first time Cook County prosecutors have used last year’s state Street Gang RICO law to go after a gang. The law allows prosecutors to combine different gang crimes into a single case to dismantle their organizations and hold gang leaders accountable when they commit crimes or others carry them out. RICO, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization, charges have long been used in federal court to nab mobsters and gangsters.

The Black Souls charged in the case face charges ranging from narcotics-dealing to murder. Twenty-three of them have been charged with racketeering conspiracy, which carries a sentence of seven to 30 years in prison. Those charged with murder could receive life in prison.

The gang allegedly reaped as much as $11 million a year, primarily through hand-to-hand heroin deals near Madison and Pulaski, prosecutors said.



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