Posted on May 25, 2012 at 5:42 AM
Sunday, Nov 3 at 8:45 AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Police say Gastonia streets are safer following the roundup of dozens of gang members indicted in a federal case that details murder plots, drug deals and robberies.
The 27 people charged are members or associates of the United Blood Nation – more commonly known as the infamous “Bloods” gang, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The suspects, many of whom live in the Gaston County area, were arrested May 18.
The 59-page indictment, unsealed this week in U.S. District Court, details meetings between gang members, plans to threaten witnesses, drug transactions and a shooting. The alleged crimes were discovered by authorities during a two-year investigation.
The majority of the allegations, which resulted in mostly federal racketeering and drug charges, occurred in Gaston County.
“They brought nothing but bad news and violence to these neighborhoods,” said Gastonia Police Sgt. Jeff Clark.
The Bloods formed in Los Angeles in the 1970s and spread across the country during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, the indictment says. The gang was divided into units or “sets” that affiliated with a particular street, neighborhood or area. But in 1993, gang leaders incarcerated at Rikers Island Prison in New York decided the gang should be united and created the “United Blood Nation.”
The UBN expanded across the East Coast, prosecutors said, with a strict command hierarchy and a national council.
The indictment identifies 41-year-old Franklin Robbs as leader of the UBN in North Carolina. Robbs, who is known by his gang name “Frankie Boo,” is in a North Carolina prison, but he has communicated with gang members with a contraband cellphone, prosecutors said.
Clark said Gaston County is not a hotbed for gang activity and that Gastonia doesn’t have a higher concentration of gang members than other cities.
But the local Bloods investigation began in 2010 when Gastonia investigators noticed a string of break-ins and learned that the suspects were stealing guns to use in other gang-related crimes, he said. Gastonia police contacted the FBI, and together they launched an investigation with the help of authorities in Mecklenburg, Gaston and Cleveland counties.
The indictment details the dates and locations of gang members’ meetings known as “pow wows,” where dues are collected and gang business is discussed. At a June 2011 pow wow in Shelby, members issued discipline to others who had broken gang rules.
The same month, several Bloods members directed that a non-gang member be killed. That day, Jaimel “I-Shine” Davidson, 28, tried to carry out the plan but was unsuccessful, prosecutors said.
Two months later, Joston “Ace” Clemmer, 21, and Marquise “Rambo” Watson, 20, both of Gastonia committed an armed home invasion robbery in Shelby, the indictment says.
Authorities also connected the gang activity to a September 2008 Gastonia shooting. Prosecutors said Clemmer, Maurice “Hell Rell” Terrell Robinson, 22, of Lincolnton and Tristan “Buck” Goode, 20, of Ranlo planned to rob a drug dealer at his home on Drake Street.
But Clark said the suspects went to the wrong apartment and shot an innocent 27-year-old man who opened the door.
The arrests will make a “huge difference” in the community but there is still work to be done, Clark said. Police know that Bloods members, as well as other gang members, are still in the community, he said, and they will continue to investigate.
“We know we have gangs in our town,” Clark said. “When we get a chance to bring charges against them, we do. This is not the end.”