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Former Kansas City police sergeant recalls mob boss Eddie Cox, freed from prison

Kansas City Star logo Kansas City Star 7/2/2021 Katie Moore, The Kansas City Star

Jul. 2—A former Kansas City police sergeant said he remembers seeing crime ring leader Eddie Cox drive around in a Crown Victoria that looked like a police car.

Gary Jenkins, who was with the Kansas City Police Department from 1971 to 1996, described the vehicle as part of Cox's crime "shtick."

Cox spent 32 years in prison after being handed down a life sentence on drug and firearm charges as well as impersonating an officer. According to court documents, he pretended to be a Drug Enforcement Administration officer, carrying a badge and gun and driving a red Ford Crown Victoria.

On several occasions, he presented himself as a federal agent and "confiscated" cash, cocaine and firearms.

Cox was granted a compassionate release by a federal judge and was freed Thursday from the federal penitentiary in Pekin, Illinois.

Black Mafia

As a sergeant supervising KCPD's intelligence unit, Jenkins said, "We all knew who (Cox) was, he was pretty well known."

Cox, a white man, was one of the leaders in the so-called "Black Mafia," along with James Eugene Richardson and James Phillip "Doc" Dearborn. The group controlled Kansas City's East Side for a short time during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The crime ring was active in the drug trade, prostitution and loan sharking.

The organization was said to be responsible for 17 murders. In an interview Friday with Cox, he said he has never committed murder.

Cox was known for being "really bright,"Jenkins said, but anyone who crossed the Black Mafia risked getting killed. Jenkins said he wasn't sure how the FBI learned Cox was posing as a federal agent, but that a couple of his officers later helped in Cox's arrest in 1989.

Organized crime in KC

Terence O'Malley, a filmmaker who has made documentaries about organized crime in Kansas City, said the mob had "a very pervasive presence" in the 1960s and 1970s.

The main ring leader was Nick Civella, who was part of the Italian mafia. That group ran bars, restaurants and cash businesses like arcades and car washes. Other factions were more "strong-armed," according to O'Malley, and participated in truck hijackings and other violent crime.

O'Malley said the Italian and Black mafias may have associated, but that the Italian mafia wasn't threatened because there was less money on Kansas City's East Side.

The FBI caught on to organized crime activity in the 1980s in Kansas City and "gutted the mafia," O'Malley said.

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