ST. LANDRY PARISH, LA — A string of crimes in St. Landry Parish is fueling gangs according to deputies.
Thefts, home invasions, and homicides among other illegal activities are all being investigated as connected organized crime.
“We think for the last probably three, maybe even four years back, the murders, the homicides, the shootings, they’re all connected,” admitted St. Landry’s Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz.
He said the gangs are competing for territory, women, weapons, and recruits, some as young as 12 years old.
According to the sheriff, “We’re talking about two individual gangs that are operating, maybe three, in total of about 40 or 50 people.”
The suspected gang crimes extend from break-ins to armed robberies, car-jackings to murder, and everything between.
“They’re stealing to fuel and pay for their criminal activity, explained Guidroz. “And they’ve been pretty successful lately.”
When law enforcement has retrieved stolen property, their greatest challenge has been getting witnesses to talk due to the fear of retaliation.
“People coming back and shooting their families, shooting their house up. That’s what’s happening in a lot of these drive-by-shootings,” Guidroz said.
So far in January, three people have died from shootings in St. Landry and Avoyelles Parishes. Sheriff Guidroz said other departments are involved in trying to learn these and other shootings are related.
If he has to, Guidroz stated he is willing to involve federal authorities, “We’re going to continue fighting until we put them all away.”
The St. Landry’s Parish Sheriff told News 10 citizens should be concerned about their safety.
His advice is to lock yourself in your home early at night, secure your vehicles and valuables, and if you do get a gun to protect yourself, call the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office to receive training in using and retaining the gun.
If you can afford it, Sheriff Guidroz suggested setting up security cameras that may deter some of these crimes from happening to you. They can also assist law enforcement with identifying suspects if the video is high quality.