GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – Authorities in Weld County are going after gangs in a unique way. They’re using a tool usually used to target white collar crime.
Police in Greeley say they’ve spent the past 2 years doing the complicated work of piecing together smaller crimes to build a case charging gang leaders with organized crime. It’s something most likely to be seen in financial crimes. Now a grand jury has returned an eight-count indictment against a handful of the 60 or so local members of the 18th Street gang.
“This gang has been involved in everything from murder to armed robbery to drug sales to weapons violations to shooting at police officers,” Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said.
Now Garner and the District Attorney Ken Buck say five members of the 18th Street gang could go to prison for 48 years if they’re convicted under Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, known as COCCA.
“This is the first time that I can think of that we’ve used COCCA in a gang prosecution, but I think you can expect to see it more,” Buck said.
The five are all in jail now, indicted by a grand jury for a pattern of racketeering, including 14 various crimes and conspiracies to commit crimes like burglary, assault and armed robbery dating back to 1994. They are accused leaders of an enterprise based on crime.
“The activity of this particular enterprise was to acquire money through illegal activities and to use intimidation — fear and violence — to maintain the gang’s status here in Greeley and Weld County,” Buck said.
Each of the five also faces a handful of other felonies for crimes like robbery and intimidating witnesses, but the big deal is the organized crime charge and the possibility of up to 48 years in prison.
“We’re not foolish enough to think that this wipes out the 18th Street gang, but we have taken some of the major players in this gang out of circulation,” Garner said.
The 18th Street gang name started in southern California. Police said there’s no connection to the street called 18th in Greeley.
In Greeley, police say they’ve been tracking the activities of the 18th Street gang for the past 14 years.