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ITeam: The new kings of crime

December 12, 2012 8:47:56 PM PST
The ITeam reports on the new kings of crime.

Although they are organized, the new mob in town doesn't look like the old one.

The new faces of organized crime in Chicago, according to law enforcement officials, are not necessarily from the traditional Italian mob.

"Organized crime is not limited to one sort of ethnic group, it's an equal opportunity corrupter," said Jack Blakey, CCSA chief of special prosecutions.

Chicago's new kings of crime are more likely to hail from Eastern Europe, South America, Mexico or the Middle East- unlike their predecessors in the traditional Italian mob.

Their end game is the same: profits.

They are making box loads of money- including cash seized in a recent Cook County raid.

Authorities say there are two primary schemes. The first is retail theft, but not large expensive items. The new mobs steal necessities such as bottled water- enough to fill a warehouse that was recently busted.

"Baby formula is always a hot product, razors, anything that everybody needs that is expensive...we have cases where they are bringing in tons and tons, literally tons of property and then shipping it in containers," said David Williams, Cook County Organized Crime Task Force.

Some stolen goods are sold in the US, and some are sent overseas- all undercutting legitimate Chicago merchants and driving up prices.

The Assistant Cook County States Attorney, who leads a regional organized crime task force, says the loss of state sales tax hurts everyone.

"In Illinois last year, approximately $77 million could have gone to firemen, policemen, hospitals, teacher," said David Williams, Cook County Organized Crime Task Force.

The second racket according to investigators is food stamp fraud. It involves loose networks of convenience stores that allow recipients of Illinois link cards to use them for cash.

"It's not hard to cash in a link card, it's not hard... That's been going on forever but that's common in every neighborhood," said Eric Burns, Englewood resident.

In November, three suburban men were arrested and their South Side stores were shut down for allegedly taking kickbacks from cashing out link cards.

"The store owner will swipe the card for a hundred dollars, as a ruse that they're purchasing groceries. They'll give the individual recipient $50 back and then keep $50 for their own profit? The government is the one that is funding the program, so these are our tax dollars that are flowing out of these stores for this fraud," said Williams.

In Al Capone's day, the flow was illegal liquor.

From Tony Accardo and Sam Giancana through Joey the Clown Lombardo and current boss John DiFronzo, the traditional mob's rackets were labor union corruption, gambling and other lucrative public vices.

As a rule, victims were only those involved with the mob. This is not the case for the new kings of crime.

"The ability of these groups to target some of our most vulnerable communities is something that we can't let stand," said Jack Blakey, CCSA chief of special prosecutions.

Fourty-six million Americans are on food stamps. For these new organized crime groups, that provides an almost endless cash stream.

Other rackets operated by the new kings of crime are vexing authorities: from pilfering ATMs to forgery and ID theft. With federal law enforcement focused on terrorism, Cook County prosecutors have taken the lead with their task force that now includes the Midwest.

There is a connection between terrorism and the new kings of crime. Authorities say some of their profits support Al-Qaeda.


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