CHICAGO — Sen. Mark Kirk said he wants to round up members of Chicago's notorious Gangster Disciple gang and incarcerate them Downstate.
"My top priority is to arrest the Gangster Disciple gang, which is 18,000 people. I would like...a mass pickup of them and put them all in the Thomson Correctional Facility," the Illinois Republican told Fox32's political editor Mike Flannery.
"I will be proposing this to the assembled federal law enforcement: ATF, DEA and FBI," Kirk said. He said he has talked about the plan with federal prosecutors and the FBI.
"They usually say, when you talk about 18,000 arrests, 'Oh! That's a lot!'" Kirk said. "You know, I've talked with federal judges about how we could handle hundreds of defendants."
Kirk cited talks with federal Judge James F. Holderman, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois.
The gang members would be charged with "drug dealing" and "murdering people, which is what they do," Kirk said.
Two of those charged with the murder of Hadiya Pendleton, a King College Prep student who was killed a week after returning from President Barack Obama's inauguration in January, are Gangster Disciples, police said.
"I would like to crush them because they shot Hadiya," Kirk told Flannery.
The Gangster Disciples date back to the 1960s, according to the Chicago Crime Commission. The gang's principal activities include selling drugs, auto theft, collecting street taxes from independent drug dealers, money-laundering and mortgage fraud.
The Crime Commission estimates there are between 250 and 300 factions of the Gangster Disciples. The demolition of large public housing buildings in Chicago has contributed to the splintering of the gang and "is currently causing internal friction," according to the "Chicago Crime Commission Gang Book," published in 2012.
Last year, nearly a quarter of the city's homicide victims through late September were affiliated with the Gangster Disciples, according to a Tribune analysis of Chicago crime statistics.
In October, the federal government agreed to buy the Thomson Correctional Center in Downstate Thomson from the state for $165 million. Located in western Illinois, Thomson has 1,600 cells.