The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is aiming its sights at big city gangs that have infiltrated the state's small towns, The Tennessean reports. “What we've seen are a lot of urban gangs migrating to smaller communities and towns in rural West Tennessee,” agency Director Mark Gwyn said after a budget hearing with Gov. Bill Haslam. “Sometimes on the weekends, thousands going into those towns, partying, violence, drugs, the things that follow that type of clientele.”
Gwyn requested a $70.9 million budget for 2013-14, a $1.5 million reduction from last year. Such a reduction would likely lead to the loss of nine forensic scientists and nine criminal investigators. A Tennessean analysis of state crime data in July showed that gang crimes have tripled since 2005 in the state's rural areas, far outpacing urban centers more commonly associated with gang problems. While larger cities such as Nashville have had some success tamping down on gang violence, residents in smaller cities suddenly find themselves facing gang murders, robberies, and drug distribution.