By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA – Nearly two dozen alleged gang members have been charged with racketeering, drug trafficking and firearms violations in a 12-count federal indictment.
The 23 defendants allegedly are members of the Sex Money Murder gang. They are accused of taking part in an extensive criminal enterprise inside the state prison system, often using contraband cellphones to orchestrate crimes including murder, attempted murder, and drug trafficking, both inside and outside prisons.
Eleven of the defendants were inmates, either at Autry State Prison in Pelham, Hancock State Prison in Sparta, Smith State Prison in Glennville, Ware State Prison in Waycross, or at the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Special Management Unit.
“Gang activity inside correctional facilities throughout our state continues to be a challenge, and we are using every resource at our disposal to combat this issue,” state Corrections Commissioner Tyrone Oliver said Monday. “As one of Gov. Kemp’s initiatives is to fight gang activity, our agents work non-stop with our law enforcement partners statewide, and this is another example of that vital collaboration.”
The 23 defendants were indicted last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
“For more than a decade, these gang members and their associates allegedly orchestrated a criminal enterprise within and outside of multiple prisons to earn money for, boost their status in, and impose discipline required by a gang,” U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan said.
“This indictment is the culmination of a lengthy and carefully coordinated federal and state law enforcement investigation aimed at dismantling this violent group.”
According to Buchanan and information presented to the court, the Sex Monday Murder (SMM) gang is a national gang and a subset of The Bloods, which originated in the early 1970s in Los Angeles. The SMM subset spread from The Bronx in New York City to states along the East Coast including Georgia.
Nine of the defendants were arrested last Wednesday and appeared in federal court in Atlanta and Albany that day. Eight additional defendants were arraigned in Atlanta last Thursday.
“With the creation of Georgia’s first statewide Gang Prosecution Unit, we’re working with all levels of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute criminal gang activity wherever it occurs,” state Attorney General Chris Carr said.
“Alongside our partners at the Georgia Department of Corrections, we will continue to hold accountable those who use a contraband cellphone to direct further violence from behind bars.”