A federal grand jury in Nashville, Tenn., yesterday returned a 40-count indictment charging 11 members of the Gangster Disciples gang 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. Earlier today, federal, state and local law enforcement officers orchestrated a coordinated takedown resulting in numerous arrests in Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the Justice Department; Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith of the Middle District of Tennessee; Special Agent in Charge Steve Gerido of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and Director Mark Gwyn of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) made the announcement.
“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 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 our 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.”
“ATF’s priority of reducing firearms violence is evident with the recent enforcement operation,” said Special Agent in Charge Gerido. “The collective resources of our law enforcement partners, combined with support from the community, results in a safer environment for the public.”
“Having the support and cooperation of our partner local, state and federal agencies is critical to ensuring that we work together to protect Tennesseans from violent individuals such as these,” said Director 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.”
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 U.S., 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 contains forfeiture allegations. According to the 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.
The indictment names the following defendants in the RICO conspiracy: Darden; Burks, Hardison; Warfield; Kilgore; Titington; Mitchell; Elance Justin Lucas, 27, of Guthrie, Ky.; and Lorenzo Cortez Brown, 31, of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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 charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
This investigation was conducted by the ATF; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the TBI; 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. Trial Attorney Ivana Nizich of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Schrader are prosecuting the case.