WILLIAM N. SHEPHERD
FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE
PRESENTED TO THE
UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION
FEBRUARY 10, 2009
Chairman Hinojosa, I would like to thank you and the Members of the Commission for
the opportunity to address you this morning and would like to applaud your work throughout the
years to strengthen and adapt the guidelines as we face new challenges. Today I will address the
issues of gang violence in the State of Florida and the response of Attorney General Bill
McCollum and my Office of Statewide Prosecution.
I am William N. Shepherd, Florida’s Statewide Prosecutor. I lead thirty-five prosecutors
stationed in our eight Bureaus throughout the state where we focus exclusively on multi-circuit
organized criminal activity. The Office was created in 1986 by the voters of Florida through a
Constitutional Amendment to the state constitution. That Amendment and the enabling statutes
outline our jurisdiction and our mission. We are housed in the Office of the Attorney General
and serve as the prosecutorial arm of his office.
When Attorney General McCollum first appointed me in 2007, he expressed his desire to
confront the growing gang problem and render gangs ineffectual. At his direction and with his
support, we have embarked on an aggressive agenda to investigate and prosecute gangs using
Florida’s Racketeering laws.
Scope of the Gang Problem
Florida has over 1,000 gangs and 65,000 gang members scattered throughout our state.
They are the primary outlet for street level drug sales and are involved in a number of other
criminal activities which include prostitution and smuggling.
Although the problem is most often categorized as an issue for urban areas, rural areas
are not immune. Florida’s Department of Corrections reports that it has received new gang
member inmates from every judicial circuit in Florida. We are seeing gang movement from
urban areas to more rural areas where members beli