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83 'United Blood Nation' gang members arrested and indicted on federal charges

Eighty-three alleged leaders and members of the “United Blood Nation” (UBN or Bloods) have been indicted on federal racketeering conspiracy charges and charges related to murder, attempted murder, violent assault, narcotics distribution, firearms possession and Hobbs Act robbery. A number of defendants are also charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft related to financial crimes.

A federal grand jury returned the sealed indictment on May 16, 2017, which was unsealed today following this morning’s arrests.

In a coordinated operation, more than 600 federal, state and local law enforcement officers executed the arrest warrants this morning in Charlotte, Cleveland County, and eastern North Carolina. Arrests were also made in Florida, South Carolina, New York, and Virginia. Of the 83 defendants charged, ten are not in custody.

“This morning’s arrests are the result of a joint law enforcement investigation targeting alleged leaders and members of the Nine Trey Gangsters faction of the UBN. These defendants participated in a racketeering conspiracy, committing multiple violent crimes, including at least six murders and five attempted murders in North Carolina.

"Today’s law enforcement action delivered a serious blow to the leadership structure throughout the ranks of this criminal organization.

"And this is only the beginning.

"The investigation and prosecution of violent gangs is a priority for this office. Our goal is to curb the influence of violent street gangs, to protect the people of this district from gangsters’ criminal activity and to restore our neighborhoods as places where all citizens can live and prosper,” said Jill Westmoreland Rose, United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

"The murders, the assaults, the robberies, the drug deals, each and every crime committed by these ruthless gang members was a blow to the safety of our communities. Innocent families should not suffer because of the violent actions of others. Anyone who tries to fill the criminal void left by today’s arrests should know, the FBI and our law enforcement partners will come after you next,” said John Strong, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina.

“These arrests and collaborative efforts are important in helping to curb the criminal influence and gang activities not only in our communities, but also behind prison walls,” said Secretary Erik A. Hooks of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. “Gang activity drives a great deal of criminal enterprise, and it takes a cooperative law enforcement effort and a sharing of intelligence across agencies to fight it.”

“The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will continue to work tirelessly to protect our community. These arrests send a clear message to violent offenders that our neighborhoods will not be a safe haven for their illegal activities,” said Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.

“This investigation is a great example of collaboration between agencies to fight the type of crime that is causing the senseless killing of our young people and destroying families in our communities. The statement made today is simple - violent crime and gang activity will not be tolerated in our communities. We will work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that our citizens are able to live, work and play in the safest environment possible,” said Chief Jeff Ledford of the Shelby Police Department.

“Today’s arrests will have a significant impact in Shelby and Cleveland County. The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work hand-in-hand with our law enforcement partners to tackle violent gang activity. But, we all have to do more to prevent young men and women from joining street gangs. Gangs are not just a law enforcement problem, they are a community problem. And prevention is key. We need our faith, civic, and community leaders to join forces with us and help law enforcement combat the gang problem that plagues our communities,” said Sheriff Alan Norman with the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office.

"We value the partnerships with all of our local, state, and federal partners. The success of this investigation is a result of sharing resources and working together,” said Chief Robert Helton of the Gastonia Police Department.

As alleged in the indictment, the Bloods were formed in the 1970s in Los Angeles, California, when a group of seven individual street gangs united to form a larger unit. The gang quickly spread to surrounding areas, eventually expanding its influence across the United States.

In 1993, a single Bloods entity, the UBN, was created on the east side of Rikers Island Prison. Membership of the UBN is estimated to be between 7,000-15,000 members along the east coast, with ultimate authority for gang decisions still maintained in New York and members currently incarcerated in the New York prison system.

The various Bloods’ gangs or “Hoods,” which unified under the UBN, kept their original names. The “Nine Trey Gangsters” is one of the original factions of the UBN, with a large gang presence in North Carolina.

The indictment alleges that the gang is governed by 31 rules known as “The 31.” These rules were written by UBN’s founders and are strictly enforced. In addition, the gang maintains a strict hierarchy or chain of command, with each gang member assigned to a specific rank with specific duties and responsibilities.

A typical structure for the Nine Trey Gangsters includes the leader of the hood, referred to as the “Godfather,” followed by ranked “Generals,” down through unranked members called “Soldiers” or “Scraps.”

Additionally, within the UBN, some females hold unique positions of authority, including that of a “First Lady,” who is often responsible for record keeping, covert communications, and distribution of gang records.

The indictment alleges that UBN members represent their gang affiliation with common tattoos, graffiti markings, language, and communication codes, and are identified by wearing the color red. Gang members are also expected to pay gang dues, which are used to support the enterprise, to finance the gang’s criminal activity, and as gifts of respect to incarcerated high-ranking members.

According to allegations contained in the indictment, beginning by at least 2009 to present, the defendants were leaders and members of the UBN’s Nine Trey Gangsters. As alleged members of the criminal organization, they engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity, including, but not limited to, murder, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, narcotics distribution and firearms possession.

Additionally, the indictment alleges that certain defendants engaged in the racketeering acts of bank fraud and wire fraud. As alleged in the indictment, the defendants committed these crimes to generate proceeds to pay gang dues, to maintain membership with the gang, to discipline other gang members, and to be promoted within the leadership structure of the gang.

According to allegations contained in the 69-count indictment, the defendants communicated regularly with each other and other UBN members to discuss gang business, including the enforcement of gang rules; disciplinary action of UBN members; the identities and punishment of individuals cooperating with law enforcement; the collection of gang dues; and to plan future crimes.

The indictment further alleges that the defendants maintained and circulated a collection of firearms, including assault rifles, for the use in criminal activity by gang members.

Over the course of the investigation, agents and officers seized, among other evidence: 36 firearms and ammunition, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana, MDMA, prescription pills and other narcotics and drug paraphernalia, counterfeit checks, credit cards and gift cards, and credit card making devices.

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