Police forces unite for gang fight

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Gangstas beware.

The FBI-led task force that has been targeting Augusta-area gangs for the past six months is now backed by federal funds, and police, prosecutors, campus police and federal agents are banding together to cut off the growing problem at the knees.

"We're trying to be proactive," Augusta FBI office Supervisory Special Agent Ed Reinhold said at a news conference Tuesday morning. "And we're setting up this task force to address the problem before it gets out of hand."

Part of the CSRA Safe Streets Task Force's strategy is to put criminal street thugs away for longer prison stretches. Its goal is to prosecute as many gang members as possible in federal court using racketeering laws, drug and weapons charges and the Hobbs Act, which prohibits robbery or extortion, or attempted robbery or extortion, affecting interstate commerce, Agent Reinhold said.

If a gang member goes to a state prison for five years or less, he comes out with more credibility and seniority, only adding to the problem, Agent Reinhold said. At the federal level, however, offenders get harsher sentences with no parole.

The task force already has busted about a dozen gang members since forming last year, but Tuesday's announcement was that the U.S. Department of Justice is now officially funding its mission to "disrupt and dismantle violent gangs." Agent Reinhold would not say how much money the federal government is kicking in, but he said the funds will be used to set up headquarters and pay overtime for officers.

The task force includes an array of local, state and federal agencies, including Richmond and Columbia counties' sheriff's offices, Richmond and Columbia County schools' police departments, the Augusta District Attorney's office, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Georgia Department of Corrections, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, the U.S. Marshals Service, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Agent Reinhold said the task force has identified more than 40 gangs in the area with more than 300 members. Their members range in age from middle schoolers to 30-year-olds, police say, and are both black and white, male and female.

Many of the so-called gangs, however, are no more than unorganized neighborhood groups of youngsters who might shut down when one of their mothers takes their car away, Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength has said in the past.

Other gangs are involved in drug dealing, armed robberies, home invasions, burglaries, shoot outs, drive-by shootings and car thefts, among other things, Agent Reinhold said. Most Augusta gangs seem to be home-grown, but there are indications that a national motorcycle gang involved in transporting drugs might have a tie here, and there have also been signs of the national Latin Kings gang, he said.

Augusta is still a long way from being a place where residents should fear walking streets at night, Agent Reinhold said. And authorities have yet to see someone attacked for wearing the wrong colors.

The point is to keep things from going that far, he said.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

THE BIG SIX


Both Augusta FBI office Supervisory Special Agent Ed Reinhold and Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength say the task force is focusing on six gangs that seem to be sustaining themselves through crime:


O-DUB, aka "OWTT": The area's largest gang, with about 100 members, based in south Augusta around the Barton Village neighborhood. Reputed O-DUB members Kevin Evans, 18, and Jonathan D. Harrell, 17, were arrested last week in a drive-by shooting, with police seizing weapons that had been stolen from Shooters gun range.


Georgia Deadly Boys, aka "23rd": Based in south Augusta off Willis Foreman Road, with about 60 members.


Sunset: Based in or near Cherry Tree Crossing apartments, formerly Sunset Homes, off 15th Street, has 40 to 50 members.


Fairington Gangsta' Thugs, aka "Uptown": Based out of the Fairington neighborhood in south Augusta, with about 30 or 40 members.


Hilltop Posse: Based in west Augusta, its 30 or so members primarily attend Westside High School.


Ridge Boyz: Based in Columbia County in the area of Blue Ridge Drive, with about 15 to 20 members.

Comments (19) Add comment
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bone
23
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bone 02/07/07 - 05:56 am
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Wow - this article just

Wow - this article just raised the membership of every gang by 100%. Don't reporters understand that recognition is something these immature, insecure little boys crave? Way to play right into their hands.

ibade
1
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ibade 02/07/07 - 09:02 am
0
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You're right "bone". Now they

You're right "bone". Now they can choose who they want to run with.

icanusethat
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icanusethat 02/07/07 - 09:09 am
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fbi is wasteing time on gangs

fbi is wasteing time on gangs go undercover on these dirty cops here if u wanna stop real crime spend money on that go undercover on that GET REAL MAN

NicoleKelly
7
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NicoleKelly 02/07/07 - 09:32 am
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They don't know what the hell

They don't know what the hell they are talking about!!!! It just amazes me how they take neighborhoods and turn them into gangs!!!! They need to do some more research!!!!!

crymeariver
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crymeariver 02/07/07 - 09:39 am
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Everybody denies gangs until

Everybody denies gangs until your little girl gets raped or killed by a gang member. Then you will be the spokesperson for the FBI. Just wait.

Raindance
2
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Raindance 02/07/07 - 10:25 am
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Bone, I have never agreed

Bone, I have never agreed with anyone more - you are so right. Shootings, rapes, and thefts have become the norm in the lives of the American public mainly because of the media (and pathetic parenting of course.) If the public weren't so blasted with the negativity out there it might not be viewed as the "typical ways of life." We are becoming desensitized to injustices to the point where even I think to myself, "Oh well, that's terrible, but that's the way it is anymore...what'll you do.." The media has a twisted way of putting a "glamorous" spin on just about anything. No matter the issue - if a moronic goon gets his/her name and/or face on the idiot box...well goodness gracious - I MUST be "cool" now!! It's a riot that they don't see how the general public REALLY views them - idiots and vile contributions to the human race.

I wonder how many reporters will read these comments and make a change? Figure out a way to spotlight the peaceable people - the ones that believe living together in peace is the only way to be happy. Alas, money and ratings speak louder than the SWEET things people do. Reporters and lawyers - same species, different venues - same lousy outcome

sassygalady30
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sassygalady30 02/07/07 - 10:34 am
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ok ya'll seem to be calling

ok ya'll seem to be calling them out n know where they are ....SO WHY R THEY STILL ON OUR STREETS?????????/GO GET THEM N LOCK UM UP...ya'll sit in tell everyone where they are but ya'll yyet to get them.WHATS THE HOLD UP GO DO UR JOB N GET THEM....

NicoleKelly
7
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NicoleKelly 02/07/07 - 10:40 am
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I'm apart of a mentoring

I'm apart of a mentoring Program called Operation Moving Forward. We work with kid’s everyday from the Sunset Homes, Barton Village and list of other at-risk areas. Yes, I agree that they do have some young adults in these areas that are hoodlums. For the most part, the kids that I mentor say the police come in their neighborhoods harassing them saying I know you’re in this gang etc. The law now is if you are in a group larger than three people that you're in a gang. That's so not true. I still have family members that live in Sunset Homes, and I never ever once heard about a gang in that area. People need to stop assuming and go in these areas and volunteer and then you'll find the real people that live and dwell in this area. I feel like they're targeting these young people. All the youth in these areas aren't all bad. I work with plenty of them, and all they want is an education and not to be harassed by their peers and the police. They need to fund more after school programs to keep these kids off of the streets. Stop trying to add to the problem. Solve it!!!!!!!!!!!

HUH2
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HUH2 02/07/07 - 10:47 am
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Get the dirty cops!!!They

Get the dirty cops!!!They wear badges instead of colors and or mask. Get rid of these corrupt, power tripping,jack booted thugs and, put real law ENFORCEMENT into action. Sheriff Strength clean your house sir!

adrian22
1
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adrian22 02/07/07 - 11:00 am
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I agree with Bone totally.

I agree with Bone totally. You are so right. They talk to much in the media and leak out alot of data that they can keep until they get closer to breaking the case. And also, why did they tell that they think a motorcycle gang is transporting drugs? Crack the case 1st or at least get close. They have just given the punks a heads up.

Rose
17
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Rose 02/07/07 - 11:29 am
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Augusta is still a long way

Augusta is still a long way from being a place where residents should fear walking streets at night, Agent Reinhold said. WHAT IS THIS? It is not safe to walk the streets in the daytime, and this clown thinks we can walk at night?Criminals don't care what time of the day or night they do their dirty work.

yoohoo
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yoohoo 02/07/07 - 11:52 am
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If you all check Sheriff

If you all check Sheriff Strength has recently gotten rid of two bad boys, Farris and Ridley

Painter
24
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Painter 02/07/07 - 12:14 pm
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"The FBI-led task force that

"The FBI-led task force that has been targeting Augusta-area gangs for the past six months is now backed by federal funds" This is the main issue in all of the gang talk the has been going on for the past year or so. Every shooting, robbery, or whatever crime committed by young people has been portrayed by police and media as gang related so they could get the Federal funding to set up a task force and open up more police jobs. This is fraud in the local government.

SnidleyWhiplash
2
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SnidleyWhiplash 02/07/07 - 02:36 pm
0
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Want to round up some gang

Want to round up some gang members and/or thugs? Go to the Augusta Mall on any given weekend. Plenty to choose from there unfortunately.

msbehavin853
0
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msbehavin853 02/08/07 - 11:42 am
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POSSESSION BILL...I am trying

POSSESSION BILL...I am trying to introduce a "BILL"...this "Bill" would prevent as well as stop a lot of crime. Please let me know what you think and how to procede. Areas of crime or known hang-outs...even large parking lots, bring in the "dogs", every time there is a positive "hit" take possession of that vehicle (spinners and all contents), no questions just take it! When doing so you are hurting these undesireables where they will hurt the most. The vehicle will not require a public defender, a speedy trial and it's Constitutional Right's will never become an issue. We as tax payers will not have to feed or jail it or even spend money providing free legal assistance. The vehicle would not even need a Bondsman (sorry guys)! Just thing that Drug dealer riding his bicycle to his next deal. Offer NO REFUNDS and NO Getting Out of Jail Free no DEALS. Once the vehicle has been taken "POSSESSION" of it in no longer negotiable!!!

crymeariver
0
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crymeariver 02/09/07 - 01:08 am
0
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Nicole kelly. You are an

Nicole kelly. You are an idiot. Sunset homes (cherry tree) is a training ground for druggies, thieves, rapists, robbers, burglars, and the like. Its just like someone who hangs out in the projects to believe a story from someone in the projects. You are part of the problem. You must walk around in there with blinders on. Read the spray painted walls and dumpsters. All of those letters put together stand for something, and it aint cleanliness. Wow, there really are stupid people left on this earth that believe any good comes out of living in the projects for 20 years.

Milwaukee Buck
0
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Milwaukee Buck 02/09/07 - 11:42 am
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FED UP BIG TIME, you tell us

FED UP BIG TIME, you tell us what we should do to fix the problem then. It takes somebody not from the projects to make such ignorant comments as you have. People always are trying to make the world a beautiful place to live by sticking their nose into something they know nothing about, but in the process all you do is end up with more than you had from the get go.....just ask george bush. Their is no answer to gangs and gang violence. The things that helping though are school and after school programs. Yet, the government wants to cut them because they don't see results. Yeah thats because all we ever want to do is cut taxes, well guess what, taxes pay for school and after school programs. And if they don't cut taxes then they struggle to get elected. If things don't work right away people get discouraged, but heck it might take 20 years before you see the difference so results won't be immediate. You have to grab people while they are young, before they ever get the chance to see the wrong way, because you better believe teh wrong way has a lot of advantages for a lot of people.

Georgia Girl
0
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Georgia Girl 02/16/07 - 09:00 am
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If residents took to the

If residents took to the streets and took their neighborhoods back, it would put a stop to these gangs. These idiots feed on fear. If they commit adult crimes they should be treated as adults and their pictures spread all over the papers. They are really brave in a group, let's see how brave they are when they are alone...

rwyatt26
1
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rwyatt26 08/06/07 - 02:19 pm
0
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Lock all of their ignorant

Lock all of their ignorant azzes up! Put them in prison with real adult criminals. Lets see how bad they are then!

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