Thirty Savannah residents face federal charges following an investigation of two rival gangs, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
The gangs operate in a small neighborhood southwest of downtown, known as Cuyler-Brownsville.
US Attorney Bobby Christine said since January, there have been more than 600 reports of shots fired in that neighborhood - and residents have said they’re scared.
“We’re coming. And that’s the message I’d like to take back to the community," Christine said. "For the folks that want to sit on their porch, for the children that want to play in their front yards, we’re coming. But just as importantly, for the bad guys, we’re coming.”
All but six of the suspects facing charges have been arrested.
Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies cooperated on the investigation, which also yielded drugs and dozens of firearms, many of which had been stolen. One gun recovered was linked to eleven prior shootings in the Savannah area.
Christine said he’s hopeful the charges can help make a dent in overall violent crime in Savannah, which has been a major concern in the last few years.
"By taking the bad guys off the street - the smallest percentage of the folks on the street," he said, "you take that cancer off the street, and you're going to see crime rates go down. I have seen evidence - statistical evidence - of that since taking this office."
Christine stressed that the indictments and criminal complaints are not proof of guilt, and the defendants are still entitled to fair trials. But he said his office will pursue the cases, likening prosecution to the military notion of the "last hundred yards."
"The artillery and the air force might get you there," he explained, "but the foot soldiers gotta carry you the last hundred yards. And I am committed to doing that."