KC police say gang targeted other criminals

Monday, August 16, 2010 | 2:26 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — Five Kansas City men are facing federal charges accusing them of plotting a robbery to steal cash and methamphetamines from an alleged drug dealer and using a firearm during a drug crime.

Police said the case appears to be one of several in which gang members target other criminals because there less chance victims will report them to police.

A criminal complaint filed against one of the accused robbers details at least four armed robberies, including one in which a man was shot in the leg. The Kansas City Star reports that investigators have seized drugs, dozens of stolen firearms and other stolen property, including a Bobcat and more than 1,000 comic books.

The investigation began May 23 after two men wearing black and claiming to be narcotics officers burst into an apartment in the city's Waldo area and shot a resident in the leg.

According to federal court documents, the intruders thought they would find cash and about 2 pounds of methamphetamine.

The 34-year-old man who was shot was charged in Jackson County Circuit Court with felony counts of receiving stolen property. While investigating the shooting, officers found 56 weapons in the victim's apartment, along with heroin, marijuana and LSD, court documents show.

Investigators then found 46 more firearms at the home of the victim's mother, including 22 guns that had been reported stolen.

According to the federal indictment, one of the defendants set up the robbery by buying meth from the shooting victim and ordering additional amounts for future purchase.

Kansas City police spokesman Capt. Rich Lockhart said criminals rely on the fact that other criminals won't call police.

"It is something that is very unlikely," he said.

The five men charged in the Waldo robbery, who ranged in age from 26 to 56 years old, all used illegal drugs and had criminal records, according to court documents.

One of the five was a roommate of the victim and left a door open so the two intruders could enter the apartment, according to a superseding indictment handed down last week.

A sixth man who was named as a co-conspirator in the robbery, but not charged, had been arrested the day before the robbery.

According to authorities, a 35-year-old defendant was arrested in a car near where the Waldo robbery took place after passing out from what he later described as a multi-day "meth binge." He was charged in federal court with being a felon in possession of a firearm after officers found him with a .44 caliber revolver.

He told investigators that he and some of those involved in the robbery were members of a street gang from the northeast part of the city and had been targeting drug dealers because they wouldn't call police.

The defendant said the gang specifically sought Hispanic victims because they thought some were in the country illegally and wouldn't go to police for help.

He told investigators that he and his accomplices robbed two eastern Kansas City houses in May while dressed up like police officers. He said they bound the hands of their victims before taking drugs, money and guns.

Lockhart said there's no way to keep track of criminal-on-criminal violence because police usually get involved only when someone's shot and needs medical attention.

"There's no way to measure crime we don't know about," he said. "Typically, it's something they handle themselves."

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