A three year investigation into gangs importing, manufacturing and selling illegal guns in South Mississippi resulted in more than a dozen arrests this week. Click here to read the full indictment.More >>
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -
Officials say many of the 15 men and women indicted on 30 counts of federal gun charges are members or associates of the Simon City Royals gang. The gang originated in Chicago in the late 1950s, but according to law enforcement agents is now entrenched in Mississippi.
And members aren't just involved in gun trafficking. In fact, officials said a member was involved in one of the most high profile crimes South Mississippi has seen in recent years.
"One has been convicted in the murder of George County Sheriff Welford," Joel Lee with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said. "So the murder of the sitting sheriff, numerous burglaries, robberies, drug trafficking."
The Simon City Royals are not new to the area. John Doty with the U.S. Attorney's office said, "They had come under the radar of law enforcement some time ago because of the illegal trafficking and weapons."
"We as law enforcement are behind the curve in getting out the message that gang related activity is not acceptable, but we are now in that game," Lee said.
Gang members are in and out of prison, but according to officials they do a good job of recruiting members and staying active through social media.
"They thrive on being anonymous and that is how they are able to plague the communities that they are in. But we know about them; we are watching them," Lee said.
Law enforcement agents also track gang members through their signs and tattoos.
"You will see the 'laugh now cry later' clown mask, six pointed stars and the MCL tattoos, which stands for 'Mississippi Combat League,'" Lee said.
The Simon City Royals is not the only gang officials are following closely.
"I'm not going to give free advertisement to the other gangs around here, they know who they are. And most importantly, we know who they are," Lee said.
Officials say if you come in contact with gang members or know about gang related activity, you should call Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898. Remember, you can remain anonymous.
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