Racketeering Charges Added in Federal Investigation of Chicago Street Gang; New Indictment Charges Multiple Murders
CHICAGO — A federal indictment unsealed this week charges ten alleged members of the LAFA street gang with participating in a criminal organization that murdered its rivals and violently protected its drug-dealing territories on the South Side of Chicago.
Law enforcement uncovered the criminal activity through an investigation conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). Drug or firearm charges were originally filed in related cases against eleven individuals, including a woman and two of her sons. The superseding indictment unsealed this week adds new defendants and alleges numerous acts of violence, including four murders and 13 attempted murders. The new charges include racketeering conspiracy against ten of the defendants.
Arrests were carried out this week in Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota. One defendant was arraigned this week in federal court in Chicago, while arraignment dates for the others have not yet been scheduled.
During the course of the multi-year probe, law enforcement seized 34 firearms, a machete and sheath, approximately a kilogram of cocaine, 78 pounds of marijuana, more than $190,000 in suspected illicit cash proceeds, designer clothing appraised at more than $300,000, Rolex watches, and numerous pieces of diamond jewelry, including two necklaces that had attached to them 14-carat gold pendants with the initials “LAFA” written in diamonds.
The superseding indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; and Charlie Beck, interim Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Substantial assistance was provided by U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Districts of Northern Indiana and Minnesota; Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office; U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; Illinois State Police; Cook County Sheriff’s Office; police departments in Orland Park, Evergreen Park, Bolingbrook and Joliet; Minnesota-based Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force; Duluth, Minn., Police Department; St. Louis County, Minn., State’s Attorney’s Office; and FBI offices in Minneapolis, Minn., and Indianapolis, Ind. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sheri Wong, Ankur Srivastava and Paul Mower represent the government.
“These RICO charges are the result of many federal, state, and local law enforcement partners working together to hold violent Chicago gang members accountable for various acts involving murder, attempted murder, witness intimidation, and drug trafficking, and for committing certain firearm offenses,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “Our common mission is clear: we want to keep the people of Chicago and our other communities safe.”
"These charges reflect an outstanding show of teamwork by our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners at all levels,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Buie. “We will continue to work tirelessly to remove illegal drugs, weapons, and other ill-gotten gains from our streets and ensure that our communities remain safe for all."
The superseding indictment alleges that LAFA members trafficked illicit drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA, in Chicago and Duluth, Minn. LAFA members allegedly stole vehicles for use in the affairs of the enterprise, and violently retaliated against rivals, former members, victims, and witnesses to prevent cooperation with law enforcement.
The charges accuse five alleged LAFA members of committing murder in furtherance of the gang’s activities:
- AKEEM ASAD, 28, of Chicago, allegedly murdered Janeen Hancock and Alixi Johnson on July 23, 2012, in Chicago.
- MARTEZ EASTER, 27, of Chicago, and COTTRELL MACKEY, 26, of Chicago, allegedly murdered Denero Appleton on June 1, 2014, in Chicago.
- MARDI LANE, 31, of Chicago, and REGINALD JONES, 26, of Chicago, allegedly murdered Deonte Hoard on March 2, 2015, in Chicago.
Asad, Lane, Easter, Jones and three other defendants – CAREY HINTON, 27, of Chicago, TONY PARKER, 25, of Chicago, and QUENTIN LUCIOUS, 29, of Chicago – are charged with committing attempted murders on behalf of the gang.
Several firearm offenses are also charged in the indictment, as are multiple counts of witness intimidation.
The investigation was conducted under the OCDETF program, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of OCDETF is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Racketeering conspiracy generally carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but a life sentence is possible for certain underlying racketeering activities, including certain murders and attempted murders charged in the indictment. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.