Combating Metro Atlanta's gang problem - CBS46 News

Combating Metro Atlanta's gang problem

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GWINNETT COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

The "Bloods" gang has a hold on Gwinnett County and the issues don't stop there: It's becoming a problem more and more metro neighborhoods are dealing with. 

Law enforcement says gangs in the suburbs have become a massive problem that can no longer be ignored. In a ride-along with CBS46, an officer says the members of the gangs are getting younger and younger.

The suburbs, heavily populated with businesses and homes, are lucrative for armed robberies, theft and trafficking. 

We've been tracking the trend in the growth of gangs in Metro Atlanta for more than a year and now we've learned even some of the quietest communities are dealing with the issue. Det. James Mellow of the Gwinnett County Police Gang unit said his team has been working cases around the Cannon Ball community near Lawrenceville.

"Blood gang members are taking advantage of runaways — young girls — putting them to work, as early as the ages of 13, 14 years old to produce money for the gang," Det. Mellow said.

Clayton County police are still tracking down two gang members suspected in killing a 15-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister in Jonesboro last year. 

Daveon Coates, 15, was one of the oldest children in the home. He and his sister, 11-year-old Tatiyana Coates were shot to death during the home invasion. Police said they received the call from another child in the home. 

Mellow said, "They are recruiting, they're recruiting younger kids - their numbers are way up, they're bringing people from other states."
 
Gwinnett joins several Metro Atlanta counties taking gangs down as a top priority. In the last two years — Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds hired two prosecutors dedicated strictly to gang cases.

His office works with police to make sure members are charged with gang-related crimes that, if convicted, carry longer prison time. 
 
"Even if it's a murder case, you begin with proving the individual's in a gang and that murder happened in furtherance of that gang. So that's the way that you go about stopping that gang activity," Reynolds said.
 
In Gwinnett, Detective Mellow says "Bloods" membership is well into the hundreds — rivaling that of the Gangsta Disciples — which also has ties there.
 
Mellow said generally the gangs don't get along, but he's seeing more parley among them.

"What we're seeing now a days these gangs they don't have the consistent enemies as they had in the past, because all it's about nowadays is making money," he said. "So if they can make money together, they make money together."
 
Speaking of money, gang members can pay dues between $40 to $200 a month to gang leaders in prison, who continue to call the shots. Mellow says most of that money is being sent back to county, state and federal prisons.
 
Since the Gwinnett gang unit started last April, there's been progress. Cpl. Justin Richey, another member of the unit says they've put a dent in the problem. The establishment of a task force has helped.

He feels things have gotten better.

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