ROCKFORD (WIFR/AP) -- Illinois has a new law that lets local prosecutors go after street gangs in the same way federal authorities tackle the Mafia.
Governor Pat Quinn has signed the Illinois Street Gang RICO Act, which gives authorities the power to prosecute gang leaders for the crimes they order others to commit.
There's between 20 and 30 active gangs in the Winnebago County Area and gang problems continue to grow in the Stateline.
There are gang members in many local communities and once they're caught they're prosecuted for individual crimes. The Street Gang RICO Act signed today by Governor Quinn allows authorities to go after gangs as a criminal organization.
Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato says, "If someone orders the crime to be done or is a participant in getting that crime carried out, you get the gang leaders plus the individuals who are committing the acts."
Bruscato says the current law is just a speed bump for gangs.
He said, "Typically you're only hitting one or two members here or there and if that member is taken out somebody else just replaces them so it becomes very difficult to get any headway with gang prosecution."
Bruscato says the new law will make it easier to take out gangs.
Glen Weber helped prosecute gangs for 15 years and while he favors the new law. He says eliminating gang activity will still be a challenge.
Weber said, "It's going to take an extensive dedicated effort with prosecutors."