When you think of gangs in the city of Savannah, you probably think of the Jivens gang. The infamous gang, which terrorized the area in the early 1990s, was the poster child of local crime in the city. It killed several members of other local drug gangs, but the most high-profile victim was a restaurant manager at a downtown eatery. But the Jivens’ reign of terror came to an end in 1991. As a result of a joint effort by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the Savannah Police Department, the Jivens gang was dismantled and the members convicted.
While the Jivens gang was in full swing, the city had the highest murder rate per capita of any American city, and its crime rates were comparable to big cities like Los Angeles or New York. There were over 50 people killed in the city of Savannah in 1991. Among those murdered was Stanley Jackson, a black man. His wife met a soldier in prison. However, many homicides remained unsolved, including those of a young woman, a teenager, a man, and a woman whose body was found in a bathtub.
During the gang’s reign of terror, the city of Savannah implemented several measures to stem the violence. They included a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for students, police searches, and lockdowns. In addition, a state task force, in partnership with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, took a multi-pronged approach to combating gang activity. Undercover informants were used to infiltrate the gang. The resulting indictment led to the convictions of two Savannah police officers for conspiring with the Jivens gang.
In 1991, the infamous Jivens gang was a harbinger of death for the city of Savannah. Ricky Jivens was the black sheep of the family, and his son, Ricky Jr., a 16-year-old teenager, was the true operator. He was also the smartest in the family. Jivens was also one of the snarkiest, and he reportedly bought his mom nice things.
Although the Jivens gang had a number of heists, they were not as heinous as the ones perpetrated by rival drug gangs. One heist that a convicted gang member described was his attempt to buy a $3,000 check to get a judge on his side. Other heists included buying a Cadillac for his girlfriend, and buying a Mercedes to impress the school girl. However, he was able to get out of prison despite being accused of four felony crimes while in jail.
The most impressive achievement of the Jivens gang was their ability to infiltrate the local school system. According to a report published by WTOC, the local Savannah television station, a gang infiltrator was able to get into the Georgia Department of Education (GDE) office and found a letter from the administrator to the principal stating that the gang had been given a special discount because they were “looking for love.” The GDE had not seen this type of letter before, but had no problem with the scheme.