A federal grand jury in Nashville, Tenn., returned a 40-count indictment yesterday, charging 11 members of the Gangster Disciples with conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that included multiple murders, including the murder of a witness; a drug distribution conspiracy; and multiple other crimes of violence in aid of racketeering as well as firearms and drug crimes, announced Jack Smith, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee and Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.
Joining the U.S. Attorney at a Noon news conference, were David Rybicki, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Criminal Division; David Jaffe, Acting Chief of the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Department of Justice Criminal Division; Steven Gerido, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Nashville Field Division; Mark Gwyn, Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Clarksville, Tenn. Police Chief Al Ansley; Rutherford County, Tenn. Sheriff, Mike Fitzhugh; Gallatin Police Lieutenant Ricky Troup; and Sgt. Kevin Warrell of the Kentucky State Police.
Earlier today, federal, state and local law enforcement officers orchestrated a coordinated takedown resulting in numerous arrests in Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida and the execution of several search warrants in the Clarksville and Murfreesboro areas of Tennessee, where many of the defendants reside.
"The Gangster Disciples have been a menace to law-abiding Americans for more than 40 years and remain a threat in 35 states today," said Attorney General Sessions. "This gang sells dangerous drugs and has taken innocent lives. The Department of Justice is making combating violent gangs like this one a high priority, and today we take another major step toward taking them off our streets for good. I want to thank the dedicated federal prosecutors who brought this case, and I especially want to thank the 10 law enforcement agencies from the state, local, and federal levels who took part in this investigation."
"The charges in this case encompass conduct dating back over a decade," said Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith. "In bringing these charges, we have sought to hold accountable those who have played a central role in gang violence and whose criminal activity has too often disrupted the peace and harmony of these two communities. Our work is not done and this prosecution is the next step in what will be a sustained effort to dismantle the Gangster Disciples organization in Middle Tennessee."
"ATFs priority of reducing firearms violence is evident with the recent enforcement operation," said ATF Special Agent in Charge Steve Gerido. "The collective resources of our law enforcement partners, combined with the community support results in a safer environment for the public."
"Having the support and cooperation of our partner local, state and federal agencies is critical in ensuring that we can work together to protect Tennesseans from violent individuals such as these," said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. "Gang members who commit such violent acts, as alleged here, have no place in our communities and we will continue to work together to bring such bad actors to justice."
The indictment sets forth a series of on-going allegations of gang related activities including organizational meetings and crime planning activities, violent assaults, murder, drug distribution and firearms offenses from 2005 until present.
According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to participate in the affairs of the Gangster Disciples, a violent criminal gang founded in Chicago and now active in numerous states across the United States, including Tennessee. The indictment alleges that the Gangster Disciples are highly organized, operating under the national leadership of a corporate board-style group, who is responsible for decisions for the gang at a national level, and the state and regional leadership of "governors" and other subordinate gang members, who are responsible for the gang's activities in specific geographic regions. As set forth in the indictment, in middle Tennessee, the Gangster Disciples generally recruited members from a local neighborhood or from within jail or prison.
According to the allegations, the defendants conspired to enrich, promote, and enhance the gang; to preserve and protect its power, territory, and operations through acts and threats of violence, including murder, assault, intimidation of witnesses and victims; and to provide support to gang members charged with, or incarcerated for, gang-related or other criminal activities.
For example, among other crimes, the indictment alleges that on Jan. 6, 2012, Gangster Disciples member Brandon Durell Hardison, 31, of Madison, Tenn., murdered a Gangster Disciples associate. That same date, Hardison also murdered the associate's girlfriend, who was a witness to the murder, then enlisted other Gangster Disciples members to dispose of the murder weapon, according to the allegations. The indictment alleges that Hardison committed these murders for the purpose of maintaining and increasing his position in the Gangster Disciples.
Gangster Disciples members were also responsible for attacks on rival gangs, according to the allegations. For example, the indictment alleges that on Nov. 3, 2012, Hardison, Maurice Duncan Burks, 31, of Hopkinsville, Tenn.; Marcus Termaine Darden, 38, of Guthrie, Ky.; and Xavier Raphael Jenkins, 29, of Clarksville, Tenn., plotted to assault members of the Bloods gang. Thereafter, according to the allegations, Hardison and Jenkins assaulted, and Burks shot and killed, a member of the Bloods gang inside a nightclub in Clarksville, Tenn.
Additionally, the indictment alleges that in August 2014, Lamar Andre Warfield, 28, of Guthrie, Ky.; Derrick Lamar Kilgore, 32, of Clarksville, Tenn.; and Lawrence Mitchell, 33, of Clarksville, Tenn.; conspired to murder members of the rival Vice Lords gang resulting in the shooting of four individuals in Clarksville, Tenn. The indictment also alleges that in a separate crime in December 2014, DeCarlos Titington, 41, of Clarksville, Tenn., shot at and attempted to murder two Vice Lords gang members. Both Vice Lords shootings were for the purpose of maintaining and increasing the defendants' position in the Gangster Disciples, according to the allegations.
The indictment also names Darden, Burks, Warfield, Kilgore, Lucas, Titington, Mitchell, Brown, as well as Rex Andrew Whitlock, 32, of Clarksville, Tenn., in the drug distribution conspiracy.
In addition to the RICO and drug distribution conspiracies, the indictment charges Hardison with two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, related firearms crimes, and witness tampering, and Burks with murder in aid of racketeering and related firearms crimes. Warfield, Kilgore, Mitchell and Titington are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and assault in aid of racketeering, and related firearms charges, which stem from shootings of rival gang members. Darden, Kilgore, Brown and Titington are also charged with drug distribution offenses.
The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations. The government seeks to forfeit any proceeds and property, including but not limited to a money judgment, representing all or part of the gross proceeds obtained as a result of the alleged crimes.
If convicted, these defendants face maximum sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison. Burks and Hardison potentially face imposition of the death penalty.
This extensive investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office; the Clarksville Police Department; the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office; the Murfreesboro Police Department; the Gallatin Police Department; the Kentucky State Police; the 19th Judicial District Drug Task Force; and the Hopkinsville Kentucky Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Ben Schrader and Trial Attorney Ivana Nizich of the Criminal Division's Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.