United States Attorney announces efforts to increase violent crime prosecutions in Acadiana
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced today that local efforts to increase violent crime prosecutions in the Acadiana area are having a substantial impact.
Mr. Joseph’s focus on violent crime is part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing effort to increase targeted prosecutions of violent crime through the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program. In the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana has prosecuted more than 200 defendants throughout the district, approximately 78 of which are in the Acadiana area, for firearm related offenses, including felons and drug dealers in possession of firearms. These prosecutions represent approximately three times the number of such cases than have been brought in previous years.
The PSN program is a collaborative effort led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office involving local, state and federal law enforcement. In the Acadiana area, participants include the ATF, FBI, DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office, Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Lafayette Police Department, Crowley Police Department, officers with the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office. The program is successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safe for everyone. United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority and has directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a crime reduction strategy involving PSN.
“Violent crime involving firearms has become a worsening problem in Acadiana,” Joseph stated. ”This trend must end. We have been working with partner agencies to provide a targeted approached to reducing firearm-related violence by bringing federal charges against those felons and drug dealers most likely to cause violence in their communities. We want to spread the word that the full weight of the federal criminal justice system is committed to prosecuting those who spread violence in our communities. They will be stopped.”
Included in our efforts, and in addition to the work of the ATF, is the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, a program that works hand in glove with the U.S. Attorney’s Project Safe Neighborhood Program. To combat violent crime both in Lafayette and across the state, the FBI New Orleans Field Office has formed several gang task forces specifically to identify and eradicate drug dealers and violent offenders from Louisiana streets and neighborhoods. In concert with our Law Enforcement partners, the FBI utilizes intelligence-based analysis to strategically place gang task forces and federal resources throughout the state, which have been very effective.
South Central Louisiana Gang Task Force – Lafayette
Northwest Louisiana Violent Crime Task Force - Shreveport
Capital Area Gang Task – Baton Rouge
Central Louisiana Gang Task Force – Alexandria / Monroe
New Orleans Gang Task Force – New Orleans
These task forces pursue violent gangs through sustained, proactive, coordinated investigations to obtain prosecutions on violations such as racketeering, drug conspiracy, and firearms violations. The Safe Streets Task Force concept expands cooperation and communication among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, increasing productivity and avoiding duplication of investigative efforts.
One of the key components of a Safe Streets Task Force is being able to combine short term, street level enforcement activity coupled with investigative tools and resources to root out and prosecute the entire gang.
Utilizing these best practices and through a number of drug and gang related investigations, the FBI’s Safe Street Task Force, in conjunction with federal, state, and local law enforcement inundated Lafayette streets and neighborhoods to stop the violence, apprehend gang members, and pursue swift justice for those responsible.
In the past few months, the FBI’s Lafayette Safe Streets Task Force has accounted for federal charges against 15 gang members at various levels within drug trafficking organizations. These include numerous narcotics and firearms charges, including over 150 pounds of methamphetamine, six firearms, and substantial quantities and heroin and cocaine.
The Western District of Louisiana consists of 42 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes and encompasses two-thirds of the State of Louisiana. This area covers the cities of Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport.