Atlanta authorities initiate new operation to tackle gangs; DA says more RICO cases coming

ATLANTA — Only Channel 2 Action News is taking you inside the two new major efforts to tackle the gang crisis in the City of Atlanta.

Channel 2′s Investigative Reporter Mark Winne has learned more about the joint operation by Atlanta Police Department and the Fulton District Attorney’s office to make Atlanta streets safer.

Atlanta police Captain Ralph Woolfolk said at around 5:30 p.m. on Friday, a team of police, federal agents and prosecutors hit the streets as part of a new, action-oriented effort to strike at one gang stronghold at a time.

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Woolfolk said that during the hot months of summer, they want to make Atlanta’s streets too hot for some of the city’s most dangerous gang members.

Channel 2 Action News got an inside look at the first of the two gang initiatives, Operation Heatwave, which uses numbers and police intelligence to focus on tackling one geographic gang stronghold at a time.

“There’s a lot of research work and back end work that has been done to identify the specific gangs in which we are targeting and the specific bad actors that are playing in these specific spaces,” Woolfolk said. “It’s a new day in the city of Atlanta, and the city of Atlanta police department in the fact that we acknowledge we have a gang problem.”

Woolfolk said Operation Heatwave is already making an impact.

“We were able to take out some of the highest-ranking rolling 60 crip gang members here in the city of Atlanta,” Woolfolk said.

Fulton County DA Fani Willis said the authorities are going get the worst of the worst off the streets. according to Woolfolk. DA


Fulton County DA Fani Willis said the authorities are going get the worst of the worst off the streets.

“Our people are out on the street with the police department while we were making arrests,” said Willis.

The second gang initiative focuses on a crash course that the DA’s office is offering to investigators across the Atlanta police department and other departments.

Willis said the course grew out of a conversation with interim APD Chief Darin Schierbaum about the need for more gang warrants and in-depth gang investigations. The course teaches investigators about gang symbols, colors, terminology and language.

“What these two things show you is that we’ve gotten serious about gangs and removing violent offenders from the community,” Willis said.

In recent months, Fulton County has issued indictments in two high-profile gang racketeering cases, including one that saw rappers Young Thug and Gunna locked up.

When asked if there would be indictments down the line, Willis said yes.

“Oh, in the next 60 days you’ll see two more,” Willis said.

Woolfolk said that Operation Heatwave is being carried out with careful attention to be professional and ethical, so if you’re not participating in criminal street gang activity, you’re not a target.

Woolfolk warns that if you are in a criminal street gang, authorities will identify, pursue and arrest you.

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