Western Dist. U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman and the mission to target gangs, drugs and violent crimes

06/07/2018 12:03 PM

Kentucky’s Western District U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman has his hands full as the state battles the opiate epidemic, a resurgence of high potency meth, and increased murders and violent crimes perpetrated by gangs in the state’s largest county.

The Commonwealth’s western district encompasses 53 counties in Kentucky with around 2.5 million people; it stretches from Oldham and Jefferson County, the state’s most populous county, to Fulton County in the Purchase area where you’ll find Kentucky Bend, a bulb-shaped peninsula that’s part of Fulton County which was created two centuries ago when a series of earthquakes shifted the course of the Mississippi River in 1811 and 1812; one of the least populated areas of Kentucky.

Coleman, who was nominated by President Trump for the position in late June 2017 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in July of 2017, has a three pronged mission in the post to address threats through Project Safe Neighborhood: enforcing laws on the books in regard to federal firearms, which includes targeting felons with weapons and addressing “the shooters… killing in Louisville and elsewhere”; the second prong is going after drug trafficking, which includes heroin, opiates, meth and fentanyl, which Coleman says is largely coming from Mexico; the third mission is to curb violent crime and homicides by going after gangs in Louisville, of which there are an estimated 1,400 members.

In the effort to clean up the streets in Louisville, Coleman and his team of prosecutors are using and planning on using The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, to charge gangs as a whole rather than targeting single members.

“You regularly hear Chief Conrad from LMPD reference two and three dozen gangs, those gangs are what are driving the homicide rate,” he said. “Those gangs are the reason bodies are piling up.”

In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Agency, as well as Louisville Metro Police Department to build cases against gangs.

“I’ll tell your viewers, stay tuned in regard to gang prosecutions; I know there’s an impatience to charge these gangs — we are coming,” Coleman said. “We have to build these cases methodically; we have to make sure we are approaching this under the strict realms of the law.”

Watch the full discussion in the video below regarding the fight against drugs, gangs and violent crimes.

Coleman served as legal counsel to U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell from 2010 to 2015; prior to his time with McConnell, he served as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2004 to 2010.


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