News 12 at 11, November 15, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga -- A number of violent crimes now solved after the biggest undercover operation of it's kind in state history.
On Wednesday, Operation Augusta Ink, put dozens of suspected gang members in jail.
The year and a half long operation also took 400 guns off of our streets.
Federal grants and money seized in Richmond County footed the bill for this operation and the crimes Operation Augusta Ink helped solve?
Well, they just continue to grow.
Including a gun heist at Hitchcock's Jewelry and Pawn back in August,
where 13 guns were stolen but investigators say that didn't last for long.
Lt. Peebles says all 13 guns were sold back to investigators for cash. at Augusta Ink's undercover operation, Colur Tyme Tattoo.
Turns out the criminals were great customers.
"The robbery of the clerk at the Richmond Hill Market the day after he was shot we bought the gun that was used to shoot him. Great evidence, obviously." Says Lt. Scott Peebles.
That was in January. One month later, another shooting, and another crime solved thanks to the operation.
Lt. Peebles, "There was the shooting of Paul Dicks, a security guard at club dreams, we ended up buying the gun that was used to shoot him."
Investigators say within the walls of Colur Tyme Tattoo other crimes were bragged about and solved including armed robberies, burglaries, and carjackings.
But at what cost?
Operation Augusta Ink Cost
Project Safe Neighborhood Grant: $75,000
The ATF: $46.398.19
Richmond County Asset Forfeitures: $106.244.88
But Lt. Peebles says the payoff was much greater. "Two gangs have been nearly devastated by these actions. I mean we took some very high ranking members from georgia deadly boys and the meadowbrook clique."
Investigators say the roundup took more than key leaders though, it took away their power in numbers.
"I don't think we're going to allow them the opportunity to regroup. We're going to keep going after them until they are extinct as far as we're concerned." adds Lt. Peebles.
And as for other gangs in Richmond County, "We're on them. This is not the last of these operations. We're ongoing right now. This is the order of business in Richmond County from now on."
And as to why investigators blew their cover and went public when they did? Lt. Peebles says when they began this whole thing in July 2006, November 2007 was their target date all along; they felt they could go out on top without anyone getting hurt.