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Jefferson County DA unveils new gang-fighting initiative
JEFFERSON COUNTY-By Jennifer Gordy
A new tool to fight gang related crime in Jefferson County
was unveiled today. The Jefferson County district attorney plans to begin filing injunctions against known gang members in the area. The new initiative designed to stop crime before it occurs.
District Attorney Cory Crenshaw says, "We go to court and we sue a gang and say that the gang is in essence a public nuisance." Crenshaw is applying civil law to stop gang crime in Southeast Texas. Crenshaw says, "And we identify which gang is the nuisance and which area of town that the gang is responsible for the majority of its crime and you ask the court to cure and remedy that public nuisance." What unfolded two years ago in Port Arthur is exactly the type of gang problem Crenshaw wants to stamp out. Investigators identified eight members of the Norte gang and linked them to the robbery of the Mini Mart on 25th at 6th Streets.Not only that, seven other hold ups and a home invasion across Port Arthur, Port Neches and Groves. The D. A.'s office plans to use injunctions against known gang members who've committed at least five ganrelated offenses in the past year. Port Arthur Police Officer Marcelo Molfino says, "If we know four of these gang members committed 15 auto burglaries last month and it's 11:30 at night after their curfew or together or violating any part of the injunction, you don't have to wait for them to commit an auto burglary. You put all of them in jail for violation of injunction and you don't have any auto burglaries that night."
Police and the D.A.'s office are setting up what they call a safety zone, an area of high gang crime in Port Arthur.
Molfino says, "Those guys are on the gang injunction they are inside the safety zone they aren't supposed to be together and we can take action before a crime is committed."
They're not ready to release where the safety zone will be located, but they leave no doubt about the goal. Lead prosecutor for organized street crimes, Clint Woods says, "Hopefully it will dissolve the gangs in Jefferson County. It'll make our crime rates go down specifically in Port Arthur where it's a huge problem." Molfino says he expects about ten known gang members to be named in the first injunction. Molfino says, "If you're not committing a criminal offense and you are not part of a criminal street gang you've got nothing to worry about in Jefferson County, but if you are, shame on ya." A warning from an officer with a new weapon in his arsenal against gang members.