ATLANTA — Top prosecutors say Georgia has a gang crisis and those gangs are behind most violent crimes in metro Atlanta.
Prosecutors told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne they are fighting more than 70,000 documented gang members in Georgia.
A summit was held Wednesday with some of the state’s heaviest hitters in law enforcement. The summit was presided over by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
“We are recognizing that there is a crisis and we got to deal with it and we want to deal with it,” Carr said.
Among those in attendance were the three top federal prosecutors in the state as well as district attorneys from across Georgia.
“What we are facing in this state is a crisis regarding criminal street gangs,” said Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds.
An aide for Carr told Winne that the AG convened the summit of heavy hitters in criminal justice in Georgia because the state has been hit so hard by a gang crisis.
The president of the Georgia Gang Investigators Association said a statewide survey shows there are over 71,000 gang members or associates across the state.
“In the northern district of Georgia, including metro Atlanta, we have a gang crisis?” Winne asked U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia BJay Pak.
“Yes, the FBI data shows we have well over 25,000 documented gang members in the Northern District, so I would say that it’s in every single community,” Pak told Winne.
U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Charlie Peeler, called the situation serious.
"The majority of the violent crime in the middle district of Georgia is gang-related," said Peeler
Bobby Christine, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, echoed a similar message.
“It’s significant, it’s bad,” Christine said. “Anywhere from 48 to 90 percent of the violent crime in our district is driven by gangs.”
Winne also went inside the Fulton County Jail on Wednesday for the gang member's perspective.
Rodney Patmon told Winne he became involved in gang activity as early as 12 to 13 years old.
“It's like if all your friends play basketball you're eventually going to play basketball too with your friends.
“What gang are you in?” Winne asked Patmon.
"Sex Money Murder," Patmon said.
“And that's a set of the Bloods?” Winne asked.
Patmon shook his head yes.
Law enforcement officials say the gang problem is not just a big city issue.
“In Baldwin County, the city of Milledgeville in one period of time within a year we had roughly 70 drive-by shootings which all we think were gang-related,” Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee told Winne.
Massee said the completion of a major investigation has reduced the number of shootings but not stopped them.
“We can win but we’re only going to do that if we can pool our resources if we can communicate better,” Carr said.
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