In this undated photo released by the DeKalb County (Ga.) Police Department, Vancito Gumbs poses for a photo, in Georgia. Gumbs, who prosecutors say was a member of the Gangster Disciples while also serving as a police officer in DeKalb County, just outside Atlanta. Gumbs said in August, 2015, that he killed people as a hit man for the gang, the indictment says. Alleged members of the Gangster Disciples, including high-ranking leaders and an Atlanta-area police officer who prosecutors say claimed to be a hit man for the gang, have been charged with racketeering in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, May 4, 2016. (DeKalb County Police Department via AP)
ATLANTA (AP) — Among the four dozen alleged Gangster Disciples members charged in indictments unsealed Wednesday, one sticks out: An Atlanta-area police officer who prosecutors say claimed to be a hit man for the violent gang and tipped off other members about police activity.
An indictment filed in federal court in Atlanta last week names 32 people and a second indictment in Memphis, Tennessee, charges 16 more. The 48 alleged gang members are accused of participating in coordinated criminal activity, including murder, drug trafficking, robbery, carjacking, extortion and fraud. Most of them face racketeering charges.
All but two have been arrested in nine states — Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee and Wisconsin — after a three-year investigation.
Vancito Gumbs, who was an officer in DeKalb County, just outside Atlanta, tipped off fellow gang members to police activity, including an October raid on a bar that he knew a gang member frequented, the indictment says. He also told someone he killed people as a hit man for the gang.
It’s not clear, though, whether Gumbs ever actually killed anyone and he doesn’t currently face murder charges.
Gumbs resigned in October after someone reported that he was using drugs, said DeKalb County police Chief James Conroy, who described Gumbs as “a bad apple.” Conroy said he has no reason to believe any other DeKalb officers were involved.
The indictment also says that in November 2012 the gang threatened a rapper, identified only by the initials “R.R.,” with violence unless he paid them for using the gang’s name and symbols.
Prosecutors declined to identify the artist, but rapper Rick Ross has mentioned the gang in lyrics. Ross canceled shows around the time the threats were made, but he told WEDR radio in Miami in December 2012: “I canceled the rest of the tour due to a promoter, because he wasn’t really handling his business. … Never was it due to any threats.”
Ross’ publicist didn’t immediately respond to an email Wednesday.
The Gangster Disciples is a violent gang that began in Chicago in the 1970s when the Black Disciples and the Supreme Gangsters merged, the indictment says. It’s a highly structured and hierarchical organization divided into geographic groups.
“These charges show how a national gang like the Gangster Disciples really can wreak havoc on communities across the country with crimes that run the gamut from murder and extortion and robbery to simple credit card fraud,” said John Horn, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta.
In Georgia alone, the gang is responsible for at least 10 murders and 12 attempted murders, Horn said.
The national leader of the gang, known as the chairman, is in prison and is identified in the indictment as L.H. He is not charged in the indictment.
Board members are the highest-ranking gang members after the chairman, and at least one of them, Shauntay Craig, is charged in the Atlanta indictment. State-level leaders are called governors. Regional leaders, who oversee several states, are called governors of governors.
Operating much like a major corporation, national leaders communicate with local leaders through conference calls and there are networking activities, celebrations to mark the founder’s birthday, weekend events and an annual Gangsters Ball, the indictment says.
Those indicted in Georgia and Tennessee include some top leaders in those states, authorities said.
“These are individuals that are allegedly calling shots and making leadership decisions,” said Edward Stanton III, the U.S. attorney in Memphis, who has been nominated for a federal judgeship.
Among those indicted in Atlanta were three people who prosecutors say served as governors of governors at various times: Alonzo Walton oversaw a region that included Georgia, Florida, Texas, Indiana and South Carolina; Terrance Summers oversaw Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida; and Adrian Jackson was governor of governor for the western states, including California, and then served as national treasurer.
It was not immediately clear whether any of those named in the indictment had lawyers who could comment on the charges.
Also indicted were enforcers who were members of the gang’s “HATE Committee” and “BLACC Team,” Horn said.
“Members of those committees would just as easily shoot and kill a member of the Gangster Disciples who didn’t follow instructions quickly enough or who didn’t pay enough money into the box,” he said.
The indictments include dozens of alleged crimes, including:
— Fatally shooting a man when an attempted robbery went wrong during a drug deal
— Shooting and injuring a 17-year-old who walked into a music video they were shooting and taunted them
— Shooting a recruit who refused to take part in a Gangster Disciples-led “community cleanup”
— Shooting rival gang members.
Associated Press writer Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee, contributed to this report.