ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned that investigators say there are currently more than 70,000 gang members across the state of Georgia.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne was on hand Monday for the second meeting of the Georgia Anti-Gang Network.
Officials told Winne that not only are they battling against inmates who are in gangs, but also corrections officers.
“Across the state, how many investigations do you have going on involving the corruption of corrections officers by gangs?” Winne asked Georgia Department of Correction Director Clay Nix.
“Numerous,” Nix answered.
Nix said Georgia’s prison system is not only battling against inmates who are in gangs, but also corrections officers, who are recruited after hiring.
“Also, they reach out to other gang members who have no criminal record and encourage them to come to work for us,” Nix said.
“That’s happened?” Winne asked Nix.
“It has. Several times in the past,” Nix said.
Nix showed Winne pictures of a haul of suspected gang-related contraband that consisted of 61 homemade weapons, cellphones, suspected cocaine, suspected meth and marijuana.
“They control the contraband trade, which is very lucrative,” Nix said.
The items were seized at the Macon state prison just hours before a meeting of the Georgia Anti-gang Network at state corrections headquarters, headed by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
“Criminal street gangs represent America’s greatest public safety threat,” Cobb County District Attorney Mike Carlson said.
“And in Georgia?” Winne asked Carlson.
“Georgia as well,” Carlson said.
“And in metro Atlanta?” Winne asked.
“Absolutely,” Carlson said.
“The most frightening thing you've heard today?” Winne asked Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
“The use of social media, the recruitment of young local neighborhood gangs as young as 9 and 13 years old,” Carr said.
The commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Community Supervision said there are currently more than 13,000 gang members under active supervision across the state.
“We'll never be able to have parity in numbers with the 70,000-plus gang members in Georgia. But what we are able to do is finely tune the force packages we use to go after each one of these sets,” said Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine.
Christine said a grand jury recently indicted dozens affiliated with the Ghostface Gangsters.
“It involves multiple jurisdictions and multiple counties,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Gilluly said.
“You've got a great group of folks that are focused on this issue, that aren't putting their heads in the sand and saying, 'We're going to protect the people of Georgia,'” Carr said.
Nix told Winne that without going into too many specifics, gang-related corruption cases pending against current or former corrections officers across the state range from charges up to and including homicide.
Cox Media Group