“135 Pirus” gang members indicted on murder in aid of racketeering and other charges
ROME, Ga. - Maurice Antonio Kent, Christopher Nwanjoku, Jamel Dupree Hughes, Cedric Sams, Jr., Jennifer Foutz, and Michael Kent, all members or associates of the street gang 135 Pirus, have been arrested on federal charges ranging from conspiracy to obstruct justice to murder in aid of racketeering. A federal grand jury returned the nine-count indictment on March 21, 2018, which was unsealed earlier today.
“Gangs, like the 135 Pirus drive violence in our communities and show no regard for human life,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “The members and associates in this case were allegedly involved in a multitude of violent acts, including a murder, and are being prosecuted under our Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative aimed at stopping this very criminal activity.”
“It appears in this case that 135 Pirus gang members are willing to kill or violently assault someone for the smallest perceived sign of disrespect,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI led Safe Streets Gang Task Force, along with its local partners, will continue to devote significant resources to the task of dismantling violent gangs that do so much harm to our communities.”
“The residents of Bartow County benefit from this partnership which not only brings together local and federal resources to combat violent crime, but it also erases jurisdictional lines between agencies producing a maximum investigative effort. We are thankful to be a part of PSN and our community is safer because of this program,” said Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap
“The PSN strategy is proving itself once again to be effective in reducing gang violence and gun related crime,” said Chief Gary Yandura, Brookhaven Police Department. “The Brookhaven Police Department is proud to be the lead agency for this PSN grant aimed at strengthening our anti-gang strategy. Joining forces with Chamblee Police Department and the DeKalb County Police Department, as well as our federal partners and our research and prevention partners, has resulted in significant and strategic investigations such as this to ultimately reduce gang violence in our communities.”
“We are thankful for the communication and the relationships that are in place between our local and Federal partners. Gangs and criminal activity does not stop at jurisdictional lines. Criminals such as these will be identified and taken off the streets because of professional law enforcement agencies partnering together to combat gang activity,” said Acworth Police Chief Wayne Dennard.
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: The 135 Pirus gang originated in Compton, California, and expanded into the Northern District of Georgia, dividing itself into a Southside/Atlanta group, a Northside/North group, and a Northwest Georgia group. Leaders of the gang in Georgia maintain ties with the California gang leadership. The 135 Pirus are governed by a set of rules, codes, laws, and oaths, which, among other things, call for death of any gang member who cooperates with law enforcement.
To become a 135 Pirus member, a recruit, or a “550,” must be sponsored by an existing gang member. A potential new member is “jumped in” or physically beaten for 35 seconds by gang members. The gang also refers to this initiation as being “put on the hood.” All 135 Pirus members are required to “put in work,” meaning that they must engage in acts of criminal activity such as drug dealing and violence when ordered to do so by members of gang leadership. Members allegedly committed acts of violence, including murder, engaged in drug trafficking and other money making criminal conduct, to be promoted and maintain standing within the structure of the gang.
In the early morning hours of May 13, 2017, an argument occurred outside a Brookhaven, Georgia, nightclub. When a California-based high-ranking 135 Pirus gang member was supposedly disrespected, Maurice Antonio Kent allegedly fired multiple rounds into a crowd of people outside the club, wounding a gang member from another gang and a security guard. Maurice Antonio Kent was arrested by the Brookhaven Police Department at the scene. Soon thereafter, 135 Pirus gang members came to believe that the 17-year-old, a fellow 135 Pirus gang member, was talking to the police about the shooting.
On June 3, 2017, Christopher Nwanjoku , Jamel Dupree Hughes, Jennifer Foutz, and Cedric Sams Jr., allegedly devised a plan to lure the 17-year-old to Bartow County, Georgia, and then murder him. The 17-year-old’s body was later discovered lying on the side of a rural road in Bartow County.
On June 7, 2017, Hughes and Foutz encountered a member of another gang at a gas station in Acworth, Georgia. After words were exchanged, Hughes allegedly exited the passenger side of Foutz’s vehicle and shot the member of the other gang multiple times. Fortunately, undercover police officers were at the gas station on an unrelated case, and observed the shooting. During a short police pursuit, Hughes allegedly tossed the gun out of the car window. The gun was recovered and Hughes and Foutz were stopped and arrested.
The federal charges result from 135 Pirus gang-related crimes including the May 13, 2017 shooting, the June 4, 2017 murder, and the June 7, 2017 shooting. The defendants in this case are as follows:
- Maurice Antonio Kent, a.k.a. “Savage Duze,” 27, of Cartersville, Georgia, a leader of the 135 Pirus group based in Cartersville, is charged with two counts of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering, Discharge of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, all related to the nightclub shooting.
- Christopher Nwanjoku, a.k.a. “Problem,” 25, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, a leader of the Northside 135 Pirus group based in Gwinnett County, is charged with Murder in Aid of Racketeering and Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence Resulting in Death, for his role in the 17-year-old’s murder.
- Jamel Dupree Hughes, a.k.a. “Savage,” 24, of Atlanta, Georgia, a 135 Pirus member, is charged with Murder in Aid of Racketeering, Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence Resulting in Death, Attempted Murder in Aid of Racketeering, and Discharge of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence, relating to the 17-year-old’s murder and the gas station shooting.
- Cedric Sams, Jr., a.k.a. “Awall,” 25, of Cartersville, Georgia, a member of Northwest Georgia 135 Pirus group, is charged with Murder in Aid of Racketeering and Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence Resulting in Death, for the 17-year-old’s murder.
- Jennifer Foutz, a.k.a. “Rose,” 25, of Acworth, Georgia, the “First Lady” of the Northwest Georgia 135 Pirus group, is charged with Murder in Aid of Racketeering, Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence Resulting in Death, Attempted Murder in Aid of Racketeering, and Discharge of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence, relating to the 17-year-old’s murder and the gas station shooting.
- Michael Kent, a.k.a. “Wikked,” 27, of Atlanta, Georgia, who is Maurice Antonio Kent’s twin brother, is charged with Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force with the assistance of the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, Brookhaven Police Department, and Acworth Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the newly created Organized Crime and Gang Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.
This case is brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). In keeping with the Attorney General’s mission to reduce violent crime, the Northern District of Georgia’s PSN program focuses on prosecuting those individuals who most significantly drive violence in our communities, and supports and fosters partnerships between law enforcement and schools, the faith community, and local community leaders to prevent and deter future criminal conduct.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga