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Craig Marks is working on an effort to combat crime throughout Lake Charles. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)<br>

Craig Marks is working on an effort to combat crime throughout Lake Charles. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)

Marks working to curb crime throughout Lake Charles

Last Modified: Sunday, September 16, 2012 6:56 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Craig Marks understands how crime can destroy a community.

In the late 1990s, Marks was arrested and convicted by the federal government for his participation in a illegal narcotics operation that had the code name Aces Split.

Marks served 10 years in prison.

Today, he is leading an effort to curb crime throughout Lake Charles.

“When you go through things in life, God always gives you a way out,” Marks said. “Sometimes we don’t take the way because we think we have all of the answers. The key to change is to acknowledge you aren’t right. Otherwise, you will fall victim to the streets.”

At 11 a.m. members of Greater St. Mary Baptist Church, 401 Moeling St., and the public will march to show they want to see violent activities in the city subside. Afterwards, area leaders are scheduled to participate in a 12:30 p.m. panel discussion about community issues at the church.

Marks said the event, Stop the Violence, is the end result of a discussion between Marks and church leaders.

“We talked about how there is a need to do something to deter domestic violence, bullying, rape, robbery and other crimes that happen,” he said.

The march coincides with National Back To Church Sunday scheduled for Sept. 16.

Marks said the idea was to shine a light on crime issues — a day ahead of a religious event — in an effort to enlighten the public about the need to take an interest in issues that occur in the streets.

“Crime takes place beyond the walls of a church. The whole idea is to have an effort that will make the community aware of violence going on in neighborhoods.”

Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon was the FBI case agent for Aces Split. He said he is thrilled that Marks is taking action in a positive activity that hopefully will pay positive dividends in the region.

Aces Split was the first federal wire-tap-driven investigation in Calcasieu Parish.

Marks was one of a dozen people arrested in an investigation that led to dozens of federal indictments.

Federal prosecutors said Marks was a high-ranking lieutenant in the criminal activity that was led by his cousin Troy “Wooster” Marks, who was convicted on conspiracy charges.

“I think it is wonderful that Craig is interested in helping the community. He was involved in one of the most notorious criminal enterprises Lake Charles has ever seen,” Dixon said.

Marks hopes that today’s event is the start of a community wide effort that will not only shine light on social troubles but start conversations about solutions.

Marks lives in the Oak Park neighborhood and recalled instances of crime that he thinks were enabled by such simple things like broken streetlights.

He pointed toward one in the front of his home on 23rd Street that is broken “and at night it is pitch dark on the street.”

As a result, he said, criminal activity occurs.

Marks understands how some people can view such situations as opportunities. He wants criminals and those associated with people in the criminal element to pull themselves out of the lifestyle.

“I vowed once I got out, I wasn’t going back down that road again. I came back to the church. I was taught the right way of living when I was growing up. I detoured,” he said.

Dixon said he will work with anyone who wants to make streets safer.

“People like Craig are more the exception than the rule. There are a lot of unsung heroes out there and I wish Craig success. I will work with him any place hand in hand. I will work with anyone who wants to be part of the solution.”

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