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Monday, 5 September 2011

Gaylords charged with gun, drug and gang crimes


Police and federal agents swept through several suburban homes Tuesday, arresting members of the "Almighty Gaylords" street gang following an 18-month undercover investigation into allegations of drug dealing, gun trafficking and violent intimidation. Nine alleged members of the gang were charged with federal gun crimes, including selling an AK-47 assault rifle, and six others were charged with state drug and gang crimes, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Topics Juvenile Delinquency Crimes Gang Activity See more topics » Beginning in 2009, an informant inside the gang recorded conversations with gang members and bought guns and set up drug deals under the surveillance of investigators, led by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, authorities said. Once violent players in Chicago's decades-long neighborhood battles over integration, not much has been heard from the Gaylords since the 1970s. But the investigation, which involved ATF, Cook County sheriff's police and the Addison Police Department, lifts the curtain on the remnants of a gang that followed the white-flight path to the suburbs over the years. A secretive, somewhat ragtag network, the Gaylords in the western suburbs are often described as the "Gray Lords," a handful of middle-age men nostalgic over their youth spent brawling with Hispanics in the city's ethnic neighborhoods. "The Gaylords never were an especially organized gang, and gang life meant mainly drugs, alcohol, racism and fighting," said gang expert John Hagedorn, who teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Having interviewed gang members over the years, he said they were "more of a model for racist, white youth than for an organized criminal entity." Investigators say the case shows a more serious threat. Other members were charged in a 2010 shooting, which the investigation revealed may have been related to internal gang strife. And the informant told investigators that gang members claimed the Gaylords carried out the 2009 murder of a North Side bar owner. Charged Tuesday were the alleged leader of the Addison faction of the gang, James Grace, 40, as well as Edward Rand, 46, and Daniel Springhorn, who allegedly supplied the gang with guns he purchased at Wisconsin gun shows. Springhorn, 56, known as "Stone Greaser," lives in Sharon, Wis., and Rand lives in far north-suburban Antioch. Other members arrested Tuesday live in Lombard, Villa Park and Elmhurst. The federal defendants are charged only with gun trafficking crimes, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Three alleged members, including Grace's brother, Wayne Grace, were charged with felony drug crimes in DuPage County, according to the DuPage County state's attorney's office. Another three individuals were charged with associating with gang members, a misdemeanor. The case took shape when a longtime member who wanted out of the gang became a police informant. While many of the gang members, like James Grace, are unemployed ex-cons, some have strong ties to law enforcement. Alleged gang members identified by the investigation include a Cook County sheriff's deputy, an Elmwood Park auxiliary police officer, a Michigan corrections officer and the son of a former suburban police chief, according to law enforcement sources. None of the law enforcement officers associated with the gang have been charged in the case. Much of the gang's gun supply came from Wisconsin. At Springhorn's rural home, agents discovered a cache of guns that included assault rifles. Investigators found that Springhorn and Rand, who is prohibited from possessing firearms because he is a convicted felon, regularly bought weapons at gun shows in Wisconsin




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