Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh announced those initial arrests in a noon press conference and said later the number had risen although he didn’t know by how much.
Anniston police Chief Layton McGrady said some of the people arrested Thursday were known or suspected criminal gang members. But officials were tight-lipped about who exactly those gang suspects were or whether they were tied to the Taliban Clan or YNTO, two groups McVeigh specifically mentioned in September as being criminal gangs.
The impromptu conference called by the district attorney Thursday lasted only about 30 seconds as McVeigh offered a short statement about the 6 a.m. roundup. He said the multi-agency warrants sweep was the beginning of a “street-level operation” to address concerns about gang activity in Hobson City and in Norwood Homes, a public housing project in Anniston.
In September, McVeigh described the Taliban Clan as a gang with about 100 members who operated out of Norwood Homes. YNTO, the district attorney told The Star then, has around 25 members based in Constantine Homes in Anniston and in Hobson City.
But McVeigh and other officials were mum Thursday about whether these specific groups were in any way related to the roundup and the arrests it yielded.
A survey of 32 arrest reports provided to The Star by the Sheriff’s Office and Anniston police — the two lead agencies in the roundup — show the majority of suspects were arrested in Anniston, one was arrested in Hobson City, two at Constantine Homes and three at Norwood Homes.
“We’re trying to get control of some of the neighborhoods,” McGrady said.
It was not clear at press time why all 46 or more names were not provided when McVeigh said at least that many had been arrested.
Officials are also unwilling to talk about the types of crimes they suspect are being committed by groups they consider to be local criminal gangs.
McVeigh entertained no questions at the Thursday press conference; during the 30-second meeting on the steps of the Calhoun County Courthouse, he said the agencies had agreed on the statement that he read and had decided not to allow media questions.
Later that afternoon, McGrady said police officials don’t want to release too much information about their investigative process, specifics about suspected gang activity or anything else that would tip off the people and groups they’re targeting.
He noted that the people arrested Thursday were picked up on a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges.
Third-degree burglary, various theft charges and warrants for possessing forged instruments comprise the majority of the 32 arrest reports given to The Star.
No Calhoun County residents were present at the conference; only a few media representatives who found out about the event through Facebook or Twitter or by making their daily visits to the police departments showed.
McGrady called the lack of notification a miscommunication. He said officials were supposed to send out a press release when the roundup started at 6 a.m.
Suspects arrested during the roundup were booked into the Calhoun County Jail Thursday, many of them held without bond because their arrests violated prior probation or bond terms.
McVeigh said the DA’s office plans to prosecute all of the people arrested in the sweep.
Star staff writer Cameron Steele: 256-235-3562.