SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – It involved nine counties, agencies at every level and three wide-ranging criminal investigations to take down 60 defendants in Georgia’s Southern District.
Standing close to his colleagues from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and inside the Department of Justice, United States Attorney Bobby Christine made the announcement on Thursday morning.
The indictments are part of three separate operations dubbed Operation Krack Down I and II, and Operation Stranded Bandit.
“Today’s announcements are a powerful example of a network of good guys taking down gang-related criminal conspiracies trafficking drugs in our communities,” said Christine.
Altogether, the Department of Justice indicted 60 people — many of whom were already inside jails and detention centers throughout the district — and charged them with gang and drug-trafficking related charges.
“Many of them affiliated with criminal street gangs, including the Ghost Face Gangsters with participating in conspiracies that connected the cartels of Mexico to the coastal Georgia area,” said Christine.
He added that during the investigation, authorities seized at least 60 illegally owned firearms. Many of them were assault-style weapons and in the hands of convicted felons.
Investigators also confiscated several kilos of drugs, including heroin, meth and cocaine.
Watch Thursday’s full press conference:
“By taking them out in mass, using the crimes… using indictments that the Southern District has brought against them, they’re able to shut down entire organizations,” explained the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director John Melvin.
Indictments also led investigators to other serious crimes. They include a 2019 murder in Chatham County, commercial robberies, and drug-related deaths.
Melvin says more can be done to bring these people to justice.
“We need expanded venue provisions for our gang statute, so we are not limited on a county by county basis of bringing gang charges, the most effective statute that we have on the books,” he said.
He says it will take coordination to change laws, but said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp backs the push.
Prosecutors hope these indictments will lead to a decrease in crime and gang recruitment efforts in the region.
Some defendants have already appeared in court. The investigation is ongoing.
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