Inside Opinion

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Tag: conspiracy

May
25th

Hilltop Crips deserve the conspiracy charges

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Thomas Felnagle is a fine judge, but we devoutly hope he’s wrong about using conspiracy charges against street gangs.

The Pierce County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that prosecutors cannot target members of the Hilltop Crips solely on the basis of their alleged affiliation with the violent gang; any prosecutions must tie defendants to specific criminal acts they personally participated in.

As it happens, his ruling may not have much effect on the cases against three dozen suspected Crips who’ve been rounded up since February by a task force of local, state and federal law enforcement officers. That’s because there was such an abundance of crimes to charge: shootings, robberies, assaults, burglaries – more than 50 felonies in all. Read more »

March
31st

A criminal gang merits criminal conspiracy charges

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

There’s never been a spectacle quite like it in a state court.

Thirty-two accused criminal conspirators – alleged members of the Hilltop Crips – crowded into one courtroom, with 30 defense attorneys, four prosecutors and more than 20 law-enforcement officers. Outside, sheriff’s deputies patrolling the lobbies and exterior of the County-City Building.

That’s what a major conspiracy case against a street gang looks like. Other states have successfully pursued such cases, as have federal prosecutors, but this is a first for Washington’s criminal justice system.

The strategy is promising, and the target looks well-chosen.

The Hilltop Crips – whose origins go back to the 1980s – have been described as Tacoma’s oldest criminal gang. A police offensive devastated them in the 1990s, but they’ve been mounting an aggressive comeback in recent years.

It must be emphasized that the “Hilltop” in the gang’s name is an anachronism. The Hilltop, once plagued with gang violence, is now one of the safest parts of Tacoma. For the most part, these thugs live elsewhere and commit their crimes elsewhere.
Read more »