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Kirk: Time for feds to take down Chicago street gangs

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Senator Mark Kirk is demanding that federal law enforcers "crush" Chicago's most violent street gangs. He vows to use his powerful post on the Appropriations Committee to obtain the tens of millions of dollars that might be needed.

The senator revealed exclusively to FOX 32 that he's been working on this since the murder of 15-year-old honor student Hadiya Pendleton. It happened a few blocks from President Obama's South Side home and outraged the whole country.

Kirk told Political Editor Mike Flannery that it's time for the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and every other federal law enforcer here to take down the leaders of Chicago's most violent gangs.

"I would like to crush them, because they shot Hadiya," Kirk told FOX 32.

Senator Kirk says he believes the two young men charged in connection with killing King High School cheerleader Hadiya Pendleton were affiliated with the notorious Gangster Disciples.

Kirk, who met last month with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, noted there may be more than 100,000 street gang members here. Recalling the role federal agents played in bringing down Al Capone 80 years ago, Kirk said it's time to do it again.

"My top priority is to arrest the Gangster Disciple gang, which is 18,000 people. I would like to a mass pickup of them and put them all in the Thomson Correctional Facility," says Kirk. "I will be proposing this to the assembled federal law enforcement: ATF, DEA and FBI."

Kirk says he has talked to federal prosecutors and the FBI about his proposal. Their response?

"They usually say, when you talk about 18,000 arrests, ‘Oh! That's a lot!'" Kirk says. "You know, I've talked with federal judges about how we could handle hundreds of defendants, especially with senior Judge Holderman."

Kirk says the charges would be "drug dealing" and "murdering people, which is what they do."

"Gangs in Chicago are businesses," says former federal prosecutor Ron Safer. "They control 95% of the retail drug sales. We ought to be going after them with everything we have."

In a satellite interview, Safer explained how he did exactly that 20 years ago, locking up 50 leaders of the Gangster Disciples.

A series of trials documented how the Gangster Disciples had reached from their Chicago headquarters into at least 28 states, with annual revenue of more than $100 million, primarily from an illegal narcotics trade they controlled through ruthless murderous violence.

"I think Sen. Kirk is on exactly the right track," Safer says of the senator's idea. "Hold people accountable. Have them go after these organizations. Have them attack the leadership of these organizations who are the one who profit from the bloodshed that's happening on our streets."

The senator says he's still doing rehab exercises to recover from last year's stroke and he plans to seek re-election.

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