NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A federal grand jury returned a 40-count indictment against 11 members of the Gangster Disciples on Thursday.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said the gang members are accused of participating in a racketeering enterprise that included multiple murders, including the murder of a witness.
The Gangster Disciples are further accused of being part of a drug distribution conspiracy and multiple other crimes of violence in aid of racketeering as well as firearms and drug crimes, authorities said Friday.
A “coordinated takedown resulting in numerous arrests” across Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida was executed early Friday morning, and search warrants were also executed in Clarksville and Murfreesboro.
The indictment includes a series of on-going allegations that date back from 2005 until the present involving the Gangster Disciples, a violent criminal gang founded in Chicago and now active across the United States.
The indictment alleges the gang is highly organized and operates under a national board-style group, that is responsible for decisions for the gang at a national level as well as the state and regional leadership of “governors” and other subordinate gang members.
“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 Jeff 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.”
In Middle Tennessee, the Gangster Disciples reportedly recruited members from a local neighborhood or from within jail or prison.
The 11 defendants are accused of conspiring to enrich, promote, and enhance the gang; preserve and protect their power and territory; and operate through acts and threats of violence, including murder, assault, intimidation of witnesses and victims.
For example, federal officials say that on Jan. 2012, gang member Brandon Hardison, 31, of Madison, murdered another Gangster Disciples associate. He’s also accused of murdered the associate’s girlfriend, who witnessed the murder, and further enlisted other gang members to dispose of the weapon use.
The indictment alleges Hardison committed these murders for the purpose of maintaining and increasing his position in the Gangster Disciples.
According to a press release, members of the gang were also responsible for attacks on rival gangs. For example, on Nov. 3, 2012, Hardison and three others– Maurice Burks, 31, of Hopkinsville; Marcus Darden, 38, of Guthrie, Ky.; and Xavier Jenkins, 29, of Clarksville—plotted to assault members of the Bloods gang, and they further assaulted one man before shooting and killing him at a nightclub in Clarksville.
The indictment also says in Aug. 2014, three gang members—Lamar Warfield, 28, of Guthrie; Derrick Kilgore, 32, of Clarksville; and Lawrence Mitchell, 33, of Clarksville—conspired to murder rival gang members of the Vice Lords. They’re accused of shooting four of them in Clarksville. Just a few months later, the indictment says another Gangster Disciples member, identified as DeCarlos Titington, 41, of Clarksville, shot and attempted to kill two Vice Lords members.
The federal indictment also names Darden, Burks, Warfield, Kilgore, Lucas, Titington, Mitchell Brown, as well as Rex Whitlock, 32, of Clarksville, in the drug distribution conspiracy.
Hardison is charged with two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, related firearms crimes, and witness tampering.
Burks is charged 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 press release states the government also seeks to forfeit any proceeds and property 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 the death penalty.