At Tuesday’s mayoral news conference addressing the recent Bourbon Street shootings, two statements were made that were completely inaccurate.
First, it was contended that the FBI had turned away from violent street crime as a priority. A second assertion was made that the federal government has been absent with respect to violent crime in the past 10 years.
If the public is misled into believing that violent crime is not an FBI priority and we are absent from the fight, the reporting of this information to the FBI and cooperation from the community would significantly decrease, resulting in less indictments, convictions and disruptions of violent criminal conspiracies.
FBI New Orleans has dedicated more personnel (agents and intelligence analysts) to violent crime and gangs than any other program in the division, even more than public corruption. More than twice as many resources are dedicated to violent crime and gangs than counterterrorism, international and domestic.
In comparison to most other FBI field offices, FBI New Orleans dedicates a highly disproportionate share of its resources to violent crime. When assessing whether to open violent crime or gang cases, FBI New Orleans, like all other field offices, considers evidence or allegations of homicides and nonfatal shootings as its most important criteria.
Our safe streets and violent gang task forces predate the Multi-Agency Gang Unit, which is located in ATF space; and the FBI is an active member, by almost 20 years and it significantly exceeds it in staffing levels.
Although over the years we have experienced a decrease in NOPD task force officers assigned to our two FBI task forces, production still remains high. Meanwhile, we have a standing request to our local, state and federal partners for more task force officers to participate in our task forces.
Since 2010, the FBI New Orleans Safe Streets Task Force and Violent Gang Task Force are responsible for 898 arrests, 268 indictments, 244 convictions and the dismantlement of 19 neighborhood-based gangs and criminal enterprises, which include, but are not limited to, the Telly Hankton group, 39ers, M-Unit/Taliban Boys, Eastside Hollygrove Guns over Drugs, SuWu/Hot Glocks, and the Byron Evans organization. These task forces have also supported almost every major case of the MAGU, including the 110ers and St. Thomas Youngins.
Additionally, the FBI has provided NOPD with information on 668 different acts of violence, including murders, attempted murders and shootings, and we regularly support NOPD investigations, including the Mother’s Day shootings. Our partnership with the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office has led to an additional 40 murders being referred, with a recent FBI referral that allowed NOPD to close nine cold case homicides.
Finally, the FBI regularly provides training to NOPD, including active shooter response, and receives frequent requests to utilize our Cellular Analysis Survey Team technical capabilities to identify shootings, including the Halloween 2011 incident in the French Quarter.
It is worth emphasizing that the investigative production cited only applies to Orleans Parish. Our task forces cover 12 neighboring parishes, including Jefferson Parish, where, thanks to the FBI’s outstanding partnership with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, 17 members of the Harvey Hustlers pled guilty to federal charges.
In the past year, FBI New Orleans has generated enough violent crime and gang cases that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has supported our unprecedented partnership with the DA’s Office to accommodate the workload. Consequently, FBI New Orleans is regularly presenting cases in both federal and state court.
Hopefully this letter strongly assures the residents of the New Orleans metropolitan area that the FBI has been and is unconditionally committed to combating violent crime and gangs.
Our hope is that, by demonstrating this commitment, it will foster ongoing reporting to, and cooperation with, the FBI regarding these crimes, so the hardworking, dedicated men and women of FBI New Orleans can strive to make our community a safer place.
While I agree with Mayor Mitch Landrieu that there is considerable more work to be done, and I have a standing request with FBIHQ for more violent crime resources, to say that the FBI is not waging a battle against violent crime in New Orleans is baseless and counterproductive.
Michael J. Anderson is special agent in charge of the FBI, New Orleans Division.