DECATUR, Georgia – Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp attended a briefing at the GBI Headquarters facility where GBI Director Vic Reynolds and GBI Director of Legal Services Jaret Usher provided updates on the work of the Gang Task Force (GTF).
A little over two years ago, Governor Kemp charged the GBI with the mission of going after criminal street gangs in Georgia. Based on this initiative, we developed both internal and external plans to eradicate these criminal organizations in our state. Over the last two years, our agency, along with our partners, have had many accomplishments.
The Gang Task Force was developed and staffed with agents from around the state under the leadership of experienced supervising agents. We made sure we had agents in each of the 15 GBI regional offices in the state to act as Regional Gang Specialists. Anywhere in Georgia a gang crime is committed, a specially trained GBI agent is available to assist our local partners in the investigation.
During FY 2020, the GBI, through either the GTF or our regional offices, was involved in 343 gang related or gang motivated investigations. As we amped our intensity level, we were involved in 541 gang related or gang motivated investigations in FY 2021. These investigations involved close to 70 separate criminal street gangs, including the Gangster Disciples, Bloods, Crips, Ghostface Gangsters, Aryan Brotherhood, and MS-13.
As gang trends, gang laws, and gang criminality rise and change over time, the GBI Legal Division’s goal in conjunction with the GTF has been to be a force multiplier to maximize our impact. The GBI began robust training and education for our law enforcement partners around the state. While partnering with such groups as the Georgia Gang Investigators Association (GGIA), we have traveled across the state to provide training on gangs, RICO investigations and prosecutions and human trafficking to thousands of individuals. Our mission with training is twofold: one, to equip law enforcement around the state with the necessary tools needed to win in the gang crisis they face in their communities and two, to increase awareness within the community at large on criminal street gangs and criminal street gang activity.
The GBI attorneys have rendered assistance no matter how small or large the request may be to help shoulder the work. These requests vary and cover all stages of the criminal justice process. We have assisted and contributed to several large, multi-defendant gang and RICO cases in south, middle, and north GA. Close to a quarter of all judicial circuits, either through their law enforcement or district attorney offices, in Georgia have requested our assistance in some form.
Since July of 2020 with the passage of OCGA 35-3-3, GBI attorneys provide assistance to our public safety partners as special prosecutors. As special prosecutors, we are currently sworn in on two large RICO/gang cases in two different judicial circuits. One case consisting of 60 plus defendants and the other with 30 plus defendants, along with three asset forfeiture civil cases.
Over the past two years, the stage has been set, and the GBI stands ready to continue and increase our goal to maximize impact in the fight against criminal street gangs.