Federal prosecutors address gang violence

August 5, 2008 4:46:21 AM PDT
Federal prosecutors are addressing gang violence in Raleigh.The U.S. Attorney's Office wants the public to know it's going after gang members. They want gang members to know they can spend years to decades behind prison bars for robberies, drugs and gun violence.

From a brawl at a Raleigh mall, to a double shooting on NC State's campus, more and more gang related violent crimes are happening in public places.

"It is bad and it's getting worse," said Eric Goulian, the anti-gang coordinator and prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh.

"Our role is to prosecute the worst of the worst," he said.

Their goal is to dismantle gangs all together, through longer prison sentences and a $2.5 million grant for Wake and Durham County anti-gang programs.

The focus is in Southeast Raleigh, where some of the suspects in the mall fight and the campus shooting live and where citizens tell police their community is divided.

"That is the handful that is attempting to go somewhere and the other group that's keeping the ones who want to go somewhere from going where they want to be," Raleigh resident Welton Jones said.

"It's a countywide, it's a statewide problem. We're getting information from as far away as Charlotte that they may have activity that crosses over into Raleigh as well," Raleigh Police Department Sgt. M.J. Jackson said.

And not just into Southeast Raleigh, City Councilman James West points out --as downtown grows up its pushing poverty and crime out to other parts of the city.

"The first year here was pretty rough. We'd hear gunshots practically every week. And over the past seven years it's been reduced to every other month," downtown resident Kris Hoffler said.

With more federal help many hope to silence the violence all together. About $500,000 of the federal grant will be spent on former gang members as they leave prison, to prevent them from returning to gang life.


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