Feds Charge Members of Gangster Disciple Faction with Nearly a Dozen Murders in Englewood

(Tribune) Newly filed federal racketeering charges allege a South Side street gang faction was responsible for a three-year reign of terror in the Englewood community, including nearly a dozen killings that claimed the lives of rivals and innocent victims alike, sources told the Chicago Tribune.

The indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury but has not been made public, charges four reputed members of the Goonie Boss faction of the Gangster Disciples with racketeering conspiracy, according to several law enforcement and legal sources. Along with the alleged murders, the indictment includes allegations of attempted murder, assaults and other gang violence in or near Englewood from 2014 to 2016.

The charges carry the potential of a death sentence on conviction, but prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek capital punishment, the sources said.

The investigation was a joint effort by federal law enforcement, Chicago police and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. At least one other murder tied to the gang has been charged in the county’s criminal courts, sources said. Details are expected to be released Friday at a news conference.

Among the victims of the violence alleged in the conspiracy were a woman caught in crossfire while sitting in a car, a man shot while waiting to get his hair cut inside a barber shop and a woman who was fatally struck by a car fleeing a shooting, the sources said.

Also included was the July 2016 slaying of Kenneth Whitaker, a security guard with no gang ties who was shot twice in the head while walking past an elementary school at 74th and Morgan streets. Members of the Goonie Boss squad allegedly were out for revenge after one of their own had been slain earlier that night. They had just left a nearby hospital when they opened fire on Whitaker.

Reached Thursday evening, Whitaker’s mother, Vickie, said she had long suspected her son was the victim of mistaken identity.

“He was a good young man, not affiliated with any gangs,” she said. “He was just trying to make money and take care of his kids.”

In a sign of the fractured and often fickle nature of gang cliques in Chicago, the case was built largely on social media and jail calls, not traditional wiretaps, the sources said.

And unlike most gang racketeering cases, the charges against the Goonie Boss squad do not allege the members were using violence to protect its drug trafficking business.

Instead, the charges allege the conspiracy existed for a more chilling reason: to build a reputation on social media as successful purveyors of violence.

The alleged leader of the crew is a 22-year-old convicted felon who is already in custody on separate federal charges alleging he participated in a brazen smash-and-grab burglary of weapons from a gun store in Livingston County in 2016.

According to those charges, he and two associates smashed a stolen Jeep into South Post Guns in Streator before making off with 20 weapons, including a shotgun, a military-style assault rifle, eight pistols and 10 revolvers. After the break-in, they recorded a video of themselves pointing the guns into the camera lens. The guns still had South Post’s sales tags hanging from them. The video was posted to Facebook.

The three later distributed some of the guns in Englewood and kept the rest, police said.

The suspect has pleaded not guilty in that case and has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center since his arrest in April 2017, records show.

Another defendant in the racketeering case is also facing separate charges stemming from an alleged gun-trafficking ring that used “straw purchasers” to buy handguns in Michigan and resell them in Chicago.

According to the charges filed last year, he and several others conspired to purchase firearms from federally licensed dealers in Kalamazoo, Mich., by falsely certifying on required forms that they were the actual buyers. They paid associates a premium over the stores’ prices to purchase them, according to the indictment.

Those charges alleged that the crew was responsible for at least nine of the Michigan-bought handguns making it to the streets of Chicago in the first six months of 2017 alone.

The Tribune is not naming any of the defendants in the racketeering conspiracy since the charges have not been made public.

Article Org: Chicagotribune.com

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