The Kane County state's attorney's office has gone on the offensive against 81 purported Latin Kings gang members in Elgin, suing them in civil court and giving Elgin police more ability to stop gang members from congregating around town.
Wednesday's announcement by Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti marks the first time his office has used the 1993 Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act, although similar operations have been conducted in DuPage and Boone counties.
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"We have gang crime in the county. It's no secret," Barsanti said. "This just gives us another method of attack."
So far, 50 of the people listed in the Sept. 8 lawsuit have been served with a summons to appear in civil court in Geneva from Oct. 4 to 7.
Authorities acknowledged that some of the gang members probably won't show up, and if they don't, officials can ask for judgment against the gang members.
Those who are in violation of the civil suit could be cited with contempt of court citations or a misdemeanor charge. If the court finds in favor of the city, it also would give police greater power to search gang members.
Barsanti credited Elgin police and city officials for their willingness to help.
"Gang crime and gangs are a scourge on every community," Elgin Mayor Ed Schock said. "It is just a corrosive effect in our communities."
Authorities stressed that the mass lawsuit was not a cure-all to stop gangs, but said it sends a message to Latin Kings and other gangs that police will take every step to make them miserable and unwelcome.
"We have another tool, another weapon, and we're not afraid to use it," said Pat Crimmins, an attorney hired by Barsanti's office to research the defendants and follow through on the case.
Last week, the Kane County sheriff's department and Elgin police worked to serve gang members with court summonses.
"We went into uncharted waters," Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said. "The whole procedure in my estimation went flawlessly."
About 23 percent of Elgin is in Cook County, but the sweep did not cover gang members living in those areas. Officials estimate there are 129 Latin Kings members in Elgin and say they are prepared to target other gangs as well.
Barsanti said his office had discussions with the Cook County state's attorney's office, but it was not interested. A message left at the press line with Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez was not immediately returned.
"In Elgin, we are taking a very strong stance on crime, specifically gang crime," Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said. "We would have liked to have Cook County on board with us. We certainly would have liked to blanket the city."
Barsanti said it will take time to see the results of the lawsuit and, if successful, he wants to broaden it to other communities. "Without follow through, there's no reason to do this. It's just show business," he said.
• Daily Herald staff writer Susan Sarkauskas contributed to this report.
Gang members sued in Kane Co.
The following people are defendants in a lawsuit brought by the City of Elgin and Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti against the Latin Kings in Elgin. The suit seeks an unspecified amount of money to pay for costs associated with treating medical problems and investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by the gang's leaders and members. The defendants:
Jose Acevedo; Jose A. Arizmendi; Emmanuel Avila; Jorge L. Avila; Carlos Banuelos; Luis F. Beltran; Carlos Luis C. Berrum Jr. Jaime Boyzo Jr.; Jovane J. Brito; Alejandro Capuchino; Adrian Carachure; Roberto Carachure Jr.; Ruben Carachure; Luke Carver; Jonathan Casataneda; Anthony K. Coppoletta; Joseph Delapena; Roberto A. Delgadillo; Jose G. Espinoza; Jesse G. Fernandez; Ruben Fernandez; Armando Garcia; Juan C. Garcia; Victor Garcia; Christian Garza; Alejandro Gerardo; Efran Gerardo; Gabriel Gonzalez; Jose L. Gonzalez; Oscar Guerrero; Jose R. Gutierrez; Miguel Hernandez; Sergio Hinojosa-Briseno; Timothy H. Hubbard; Fabian Jaimes; Elias Juarez; Saul Juarez; Hugo Lara; Emmanuel L. Limberg; Gabriel Lopez; Juan Macedo Jr.; Edgar Maldonado; Jesus A. Maldonado; Miguel A. Maldonado; Paulino Maldonado; Rigoberto Mancilla; Gervacio O. Manzo; Omar E. Martillo-Burgos; Esteban Martinez; Jesus K. Martinez; Sergio Martinez; Enrique Mascote; Rodrigo Mascote; Francisco A. Morales Jr.; Aurelio Munoz; Amanda A. Neto; Alejandro Nino; Guillermo Nino Jr.; Francisco Ochoa; Victor A. Ortega; Fabian Pena; Daniel Perez; Leo Perez; Andres Quinones; Daniel Quinones; Alejandro J. Rodriguez; Hugo Cesar Rodriguez; Jose G. Romero; Orasio Romero; Oscar Sanchez; Ruben Sanchez; Albino V. Torres; Cesar F. Trevino; Luis A. Valadez; Hugo Vargas; Jose Vargas; Juan C. Yanez; Daniel Zambrano Jr.; Hector Zarate.
SOURCE: Kane County state's attorney's office-supplied copy of lawsuit 2010CH4151
Gangs: Officials say 129 Latin Kings live in Elgin