- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 22, 2015

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Seventeen suspects accused of being part of a neighborhood-based criminal gang in Abbeville have been indicted, according to law enforcement officials.

Charges include racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and criminal street gang violation, said Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson.

The indictments were announced Monday and came after a year-long investigation by a special task force made up of several Acadiana law enforcement agencies.

The gang members called themselves the Gremlins, according to the Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1Oi07MU ). All but one of the 17 suspects had registered Abbeville addresses.

Seven of the suspects indicted were not in custody as of Monday.



Edmonson said more charges, including murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm are expected to be applied.

Prosecutors said penalties for racketeering could be up to 50 years in prison and a $1 million fine. District Attorney Keith Stutes said state prosecutors will seek maximum sentences in each case.

“When you think about gangs, you think these are some of these national gangs that are exhibiting across the country - California, Chicago, New York,” Edmonson said. “But these are neighborhood gangs. We see them across the state of Louisiana. They can be the worst because there is no hierarchy.”

Edmonson said these types of gangs see frequent leadership changes.

“This group of individuals have plagued the city of Abbeville,” Abbeville Police Chief Tony Hardy said. “The people in the city of Abbeville are tired it and they want it stopped.”

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Information from: The Advertiser, https://www.theadvertiser.com

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