Video of child with gun adds fuel to federal crackdown on N.O. gangs

Video of child with gun adds fuel to federal crackdown on N.O. gangs

As the feds worked to prosecute a gang known as GOD or "Guns Over Drugs," they found a disturbing cell phone video.

The video shows the gang members selling crack cocaine to a man in the backseat of a car. Throughout the transaction, a 4-year-old boy takes it all in.

"They kind of viewed him as a mascot for their organization. Whether it was a formal initiation process or not, it was becoming a process of bringing him into this life of criminality," said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite.

Polite said in addition to the video, cell phone pictures of the little boy holding a gun are even more telling.

"We have reason to believe that this is a young person who was around these individuals on a regular basis," Polite said.

He said it's clear that the negative effects a gang can have on a community are far-reaching, and it's why the feds work alongside state and local agencies to eliminate them.

"We've got several different task forces, but one of the most important has become this multi-agency gang unit which has become part of the city's gang violence reduction strategy," Polite said.

Part of the strategy is to work together to stop gangs that Polite said are responsible for terrorizing neighborhoods and corrupting young children.

"These are people who are overall the most violent individuals," he said. "They are responsible for the most violence we see on our streets."

So far, Polite's office has indicted members of about eight gangs, while the state has done the same. In all, he said about 90 gang members are now off the street. Still, he admits that dozens of gangs continue to operate across the city.

"These are organizations that are very transient at times," Polite said. "They operate in certain neighborhoods one day, and then maybe the next week they are forming in a different neighborhood with different individuals."

Polite said this is the reason his office concentrates on the individuals and not the areas where they operate.

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