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Ga. police arrest 27 in gang sweep

Operation "Three R's" – to restore order, repel crime and resurrect the quality of life.

By Saeed Ahmed
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
CLAYTON, Ga. Four months ago when Jeff Turner was appointed police chief of Clayton County, he acknowledged the county had a gang and drug problem and vowed to take it back.

Thursday night, he fired his opening salvo.

Suspects await processing after Clayton County police rounded up more than two dozen people with outstanding warrants during a massive sweep Thursday night at the Hunter Ridge mobile home park on Tara Road.
About 100 armed officers swarmed into the Hunter Ridge mobile home community in Jonesboro, which police said had in recent years become a haven for gang activity.

The community of about 500 trailer homes on Tara Road was targeted after Clayton police discovered that 60 people with active warrants against them were holed up there. The warrants ran the gamut from petty theft to armed robbery to murder.

"That's unacceptable," Turner said. "That's a whole lot of people walking around freely in a tight area."

By midnight, police had issued more than 55 citations, seized guns and more than $30,000, and taken into custody 27 people.

They were taken to mobile command centers set up at nearby parking lots where a judge processed them.

For the sweep, the police department had called in immigration agents because many of the gang members were in the country illegally. Also on hand were the Department of Family and Children Services and animal control, to tend to little ones or pets left behind.

Agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with officials from Forest Park police and the Fayette County Sheriff's Office, also assisted.

"Yes, this was a well-thought out operation," said Turner, who dubbed it "Operation Three R's" – to restore order, repel crime and resurrect the quality of life.

Conspicuously absent was the Clayton County Sheriff's Office.

Turner has often clashed with Sheriff Victor Hill, who has made no secret of his desire to consolidate the two departments and make the sheriff's office the only countywide law enforcement agency.

Turner said that for years, the residents had complained that the park was overrun by gangs. Parents were afraid to let their children out to play. Teenagers were worried of being shaken down, or worse, by gang members.

"We've been out there on several occasions," he said. "It was time for a proactive approach."

Thursday's sweep, he added, was "just the start of the operation" in the county.

Copyright 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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