Attorney General Chris Carr touted the work done by his new Gang Prosecution Unit launched in July; since then, the unit has indicted 50 alleged gang members across 13 counties, he told legislators on Wednesday.
The Georgia gang investigators estimate that 60 percent of violent crimes are gang-related, so this unit’s creation is perfectly timed to be a force multiplier in this fight,” Carr said in a presentation to the money committees. “With the new unit, we’ve been working hand-in-hand with local, state, and federal law enforcement to ensure that violent criminals are aggressively prosecuted and put behind bars.”
He said the unit also works alongside the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, launched in 2019.
In 2022, the General Assembly approved legislation giving the attorney general’s office jurisdiction to prosecute criminal gang activity and passed $1.3 million in spending for the Gang Prosecution Unit in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
On Wednesday, Carr asked for an additional $1.75 million in Fiscal Year 2024 to fund data storage technology for the unit.
“Building gang cases and collecting digital evidence requires our office to store and retain incredibly large amounts of data, and in particular video data,” Carr said.
That includes local police body camera footage, footage from private citizens’ doorbell cameras, and surveillance cameras from government and businesses.
Carr also said legislators and the administration need to do more to block gang recruitment activity and cited a gang founded at a Georgia high school in 2017 that has members as young as ten years old.
“With the rise of social media, it’s helped to expand the reach and frequency of this illegal activity. So recruitment is on the rise, and the age of the members is trending younger and younger, from seven, eight, and nine years old,” he said.
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].