FBI rolls up its sleeves to fight gangs in Louisville

FBI rolls up its sleeves to fight gangs in Louisville
Supervisory Senior Resident FBI Agent Craig Donnachie (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Supervisory Senior Resident FBI Agent Craig Donnachie (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Chantay Yelverton (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Chantay Yelverton (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – With bigger pockets and bigger shoulders, the FBI says they are ready to help tackle Louisville's gangs.

"If that's where the violence is or the gang activity, then that's where we hunt," Supervisory Senior Resident FBI Agent Craig Donnachie said.

Donnachie is one of many who are worried about the surge in crime in Louisville. He said they want to talk to those fed up and living in affected communities to get rid of gangs.

They want to reach out to people like Chantay Yelverton, who lives near a gang activity hot spot.

"One, two, three, four," she counted the bullets that recently hit her house.

"I said, 'Oh no! They're shooting in here so I fell to the floor!" She yelled. "Right here would have been a headshot for me."

Yelverton's in constant fear over the beef between gangs and it's affecting her entire family, especially her granddaughter to has to ride the school bus.

"I wish that we'd come up with a better solution because it's not fair for my grandkids to be thrown into something and now she's afraid to go to school," she said.

Yelverton's mother, a corrections officer, has to drop off and pick up her child at the school, also fearing her safety.

"I don't know what else to do," Yelverton said.

The Louisville Metro Police Department only recently started acknowledging that gangs are to blame for at least some of the homicides and shootings.

Yelverton blames bad parents. But while she waits for them to come around, the FBI said they are ready to squash the gangs.

"I think a lot of people in the state don't realize that the FBI is here and has that kind of competency," Donnachie said.

He refers to the Safe Streets Task Force, which exists with 56 field offices throughout the country.

In Kentucky, they have between 10 and 15 agents that cover Louisville, Lexington and Covington.

Donnachie said the FBI is surging their efforts in Louisville because of the recent spike in homicides and shootings and are working with LMPD to pin the most dangerous gang members.

He also told us about something new, the FBI is now training local officers and prosecutors on how to nail criminals with Federal charges to keep them from bouncing in and out of jail.

"Instead of maybe just going after a traditional drug trafficking conspiracy, there's a whole host of other federal violations we can use," he said.

He refers to violations like felonious possession of a firearm, extortion or specific charges for crossing state lines under the Hobbs Act.

"It's just an extra tool or option that they didn't have without us," he said.

The FBI also has the cash and ability to wiretap and set up surveillance cameras.

"When it comes time to indict, we can indict 10 or 15 in one shot as opposed to trying to just trying to arrest just one or two in a period of one year," Donnachie said.

The FBI also has the ability to federally deputize LMPD, making them another agent on their task force. They can also embed agents into drug units.

The list may come as good news to people like Yelverton who is desperate and running out of ideas.

"It's time to break it down and stop the bull crap you know, for real because it's scary," she said.

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