Interesting MLive Article on Federal Prosecutor’s Efforts to Break-Up Gang
John Agar of MLive has a good article summarizing the federal prosecution and dismantling of the Holland Latin Kings in federal court in Grand Rapids (Click here to read the article).
From the perspective of a federal criminal defense attorney in West Michigan, I believe this case will prove to be a very important case for federal prosecutors in West Michigan, because it clearly demonstrates the power of the federal government to do what the state and local could not: curb the power and influence of a violent local gang and, ultimately, dismantle it. Despite their best efforts, the state and local law enforcement could not stop the gang while, according to the article, they terrorized Holland for more than two decades. But the federal government and the US Attorney’s office, in particular, used its vast resources to take down the gang in one concerted prosecution. The feds worked closely with the state and local law enforcement, but relied on decades old federal criminal charges (RICO charges) that, historically, were used to dismantle the mafia. Ultimately, the feds were able to leverage the threat of stiff sentences under federal law to either induce certain members of gang to cooperate against one another or to plead guilty to avoid the possibility of long federal prison sentences. Over 30 members of the Holland Latin Kings were charged and ultimately convicted either by plea or at trial. Thus, it will not come as a surprise to see the US Attorney’s Office use a similar approach to go after other violent gangs/criminals plaguing West Michigan, as this case clearly demonstrates that the federal government possesses unique prosecutorial powers to do so effectively.