Local governments now have the power to go after street gangs as criminal organizations under a new Illinois law.Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Street Gang RICO Act into law Monday. “We have to make this our mission, to go after these thugs, mobsters, gangsters and use every fiber of our being and every ounce of the law to carry out this mission,” Quinn said.

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The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act enforces stiff penalties for acts performed as part of a criminal organization, like the Mafia. The Illinois law applies the same idea to street gangs. It takes effect immediately.

“This is a 20 -21st century crime fighting technique that up [until] today Illinois did not have,” said the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside). “We need every tool at our disposal to go after the hierarchies of gangs; this will allow us to do that.”

More than two dozen states have RICO laws. Opponents argue the law could go too far.

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