SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Department of Justice announced dozens of indictments in local gang investigations during a news conference Thursday morning in Savannah.
The indictments were part of “Operation Krack Down I and II” and “Operation Stranded Bandit.”
“It takes a network to fight a network.”
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, Bobby Christine, was flanked by some of the members of the 26 federal, state and local agencies who worked on Operation Krack Down I and II, and Operation Stranded Bandit.
U.S. Attorney Christine said, “This conspiracy represented a marriage of convenience between multiple gangs who put aside their own rules and racial animosity in the pursuit of a common goal: making money by channeling poison into our communities.”
The investigation and indictments actually grew out of other recent drug prosecutions by the Southern District, and led to nearly 150 federal charges, 60 guns seized and identified seven criminal street gangs.
Michael Carlson, Vice President of the Georgia Gang Association said, “There is simply no more existential public safety threat confronting the United States than criminal street gangs.”
Carlson, who also serves as Legal Services Director for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, pointed to other large-scale operations like the ones announced today and the impact they can have on communities.
“Very quickly after that operation was up and running, there was a 50-percent drop in murders, and 50-percent drop in shootings in that very community,” said Carlson. “Gang recruiting only stops when gangs face prosecution.”
GBI Assistant Director John Melvin said today agencies still need tools from elected leaders at the state and federal level to help their operations be even more effective.
“Federally we do not have an anti-gang statute. We need federal legislation because gangs are not respecting our state lines. They’re not respecting our national borders,” said Melvin.
It is important to note, criminal indictments are only charges, and all of the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Watch the full news conference below: