federal indictment unsealed today alleges Norteno gang members in Dodge City, Kan., were involved in racketeering and murder, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. The indictment names 23 defendants, including four who are charged with the June 8, 2009, murder of Israel Peralta and the attempted murder of three other men. Peralta was shot to death as he and his friends were sitting outside in a trailer park on the south side of Dodge City. One of the men with Peralta was wounded by gunfire during the attack. "This indictment alleges the Nortenos operated a criminal enterprise in Dodge City,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “They engaged in drug trafficking, robbery and even murder for the purpose of expanding their power, wealth and influence.” The indictment alleges members of the Nortenos built the gang’s reputation in Dodge City, defended its territory, and promoted its drug trafficking activities by creating a climate of fear through acts of violence and threats of violence. The defendants are charged under a federal law called the RICO Act (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). The indictment marks only the second time federal prosecutors in Kansas have filed charges under RICO and VICAR, violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity. The indictment is based on a two-year investigation in which the Dodge City Police Department teamed up with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other local, state and federal agencies to build the case. “This indictment sends a message, “ Grissom said. “Dodge City residents shall not live in fear. Our streets are not a war zone. Gangs of armed men will not be permitted to prey on the weak or to exchange fire while the rest of us scramble for cover.” “This investigation was initiated due to the ongoing violent criminal street gang problems occurring in Dodge City,” said Craig Mellecker, Dodge City Police Chief. “The Dodge City Police Department is committed to taking enforcement action to rid our community of these violent street gangs. The citizens of Dodge City deserve to live in a safe community.” The 38-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Wichita includes counts alleging conspiracy to engage in racketeering, violent crimes in furtherance of racketeering, unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and other counts.
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