BALTIMORE - In the city's ongoing fight against gang violence, Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein announced Thursday that 48 members and associates of the Black Guerilla Family have been indicted on a variety of charges ranging from drugs to murder.
During a three-month collaborative investigation, ATF agents targeted the notorious Black Guerilla Family, setting a goal to put an end to the regime from "top to bottom, root to branch." Wednesday's 48 arrests are just one step in making that happen.
"For us, within our organization, they are our target," Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said. "This is where we start destabilizing them. This is where we start cutting the head off of this organized group and bringing them to justice."
City leaders gathered at Mund Park on Thursday afternoon; it's the exact location they say that the Greenmount Black Guerilla Family held their meetings.
"I thought it was critically important to come to the community that has been impacted by this violence. Where we've had blood on our streets and in our gutters, and we're sending back a message that we're taking back these locations," Batts said.
Community members circled around city leaders as they spoke of the gang's violence.
"Most of the violent crime in our city is not random," Batts said. "There is always a story behind them. The heart of our crime, the violence in our city, as I said almost a year ago, is the Black Guerilla Family."
Constance Ross has lived in the Greenmount area her entire life, she says she has watched the gangs take over her neighborhood.
"Of course, when you're going down the street and you hear gunshots and you don't know which way to go because you certainly don't want to get hurt yourself, then yeah, that's very concerning," she said.
Thirty-eight of those arrested face taking part in a gang conspiracy and violating gang law charges. Seven are charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing eight victims.
One of those victims was 50-year-old Carlos Williams, a Comcast employee who was shot in his van on Boone Street. At the time of his 2010 murder, police wouldn't confirm that it was gang related. Now, they tell ABC2 that members of the Black Guerilla Family killed him for opening a drug rehabilitation center in the area where the gang conducted its narcotics trafficking operations.
"The gang operates in various groups around the city. This is a major piece of it in the Greenmount corridor. We're hopeful it will completely dismantle them in that area," Baltimore City State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein said.
Law enforcement leaders say they're sending a message and they will not stop until the streets of Baltimore are safe.
"When communities don't feel safe, it bothers me," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. "It troubles me when children die in our streets; it keeps me up at night. But we will not lose our resolve. Our city is bigger and better than that. Baltimore's city is stronger than those who seek to bring violence and guns into our city."
According to police, as of Thursday afternoon, 15 defendants still remained on the streets. They said they are confident those people will be arrested by the weekend.
Officials also said they think the arrests will put a stop to the gang activity in the Greenmount area.