WTOC Investigates: Federal investigators focusing on gun-related crimes in Savannah

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Updated: Jan. 1, 2021 at 2:00 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, Bobby Christine says his team is hyper-focused on gang-related crime in Savannah.

U.S. Attorney Christine says his office is close to another major street gang bust. And he says this one will once again involve some gang members in the greater Savannah area.

This comes on the heels of the Department of Justice indicting dozens of local gang members just two weeks ago.

Christine says the Southern District of Georgia has seen a drop in violent crime since the COVID-19 outbreak. But when it comes to firearms crimes, Christine says Savannah is a troubling exception.

According to Savannah Police records, gun crimes are up slightly this year from 468 in 2019, to 476 in 2020. Gun arrests jumped from 63 to 66.

Christine says the feds have honed-in on several Savannah street gangs. He says the feds are needed, because right now, too many repeat offenders are serving little to no time for gun charges; especially in the age of COVID.

“The good people on the pardons and paroles board have to prioritize who they hold. You’re going to hold the murderers, the rapists, and the robbers. And then you’ve got this guy coming in for possession of a firearm by convicted felon. Now, he might have been a murderer previously and been paroled, he might have been a robber and been paroled, but for this very instant he is only in our system for possession of a firearm,” Christine said. “However, in the federal system, you send somebody who is a convicted felon, who is caught in possession of a firearm - particularly a stolen firearm - but nonetheless any firearm. They are going to prison. And there is no parole in the federal system.”

Christine says his office estimates there are 70,000 gang members in the state of Georgia. He says it’s a network nearly twice the size of ISIS. That’s why Christine says they are treating gang activity in places like Savannah as a crisis.

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