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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Gangster Disciple “Chief Enforcer” For the State of Tennessee Sentenced to 25 Years for RICO Conspiracy

Memphis, TN - Demarcus Deon Crawford, 36, a/k/a/ "Trip," has been sentenced to 300 months in federal prison for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the sentence today.

This sentencing is the latest reckoning in a large RICO conspiracy case, "Operation .38 Special", which was originally indicted in May, 2016, charging a total of 16 members of the Gangster Disciples criminal enterprise with racketeering. https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/pr/16-alleged-gangster-disciples-members-indicted-federal-racketeering-charges.

According to the superseding indictment, the Gangster Disciples is a highly-organized national gang active in more than 35 states. The scope of the Gangster Disciples’ crimes is wide-ranging and consistent throughout its national operation. The gang protects its power through threats, intimidation, and violence, including murder, attempted murder, assault, and obstruction of justice. The Gangster Disciples promotes its enterprise through member-only activities and provides support to members charged with or incarcerated for gang-related offenses.

The Gangster Disciples were organized into different positions, including board members, and governor-of-governors who each controlled geographic regions; governors, assistant governors, chief enforcers and chief of security for each state or regions within the state where the Gangster Disciples were active; and coordinators and leaders within each local group. The State of Tennessee was divided into specific area codes that defined the separate divisions or "sets" of the Gangster Disciples. The Knoxville set was known by its area code "865," Chattanooga by its area code "423," Nashville by its area code "615," Columbia by its area code "931," Jackson by its area code "731," and Memphis by its area code "901." Crawford was the Gangster Disciples’ "Chief Enforcer" for the State of Tennessee, meaning he was responsible for Gangster Disciple criminal activity in all of those regions.

The RICO count of the superseding indictment that Crawford pled guilty to states that: members and associates of the Gangster Disciples are subject to a strict code of discipline and are routinely fined, beaten, or even murdered for failing to follow the gang’s rules; that as Chief Enforcer, Crawford was responsible for enforcing the gang’s rules and for the administration of punishment to members who violated gang rules and for ensuring that people who claimed to be members of the Gangster Disciples were in fact members in good standing; and that Chief Enforcers often maintained close physical and verbal communication with the Governor of the State and traveled with the Governor around his zone of responsibility. During the change of plea hearing on June 7, 2019, Crawford admitted that he ordered the shooting of rival gang members for retaliation and to maintain his position within the Gangster Disciples, and that he participated directly and indirectly in the activities of the gang, including acts of attempted murder and narcotics trafficking.

On March 9, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr., sentenced Crawford to 300 months in federal prison followed by 5 years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

United States Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: "This case demonstrates our ability and resolve to aggressively prosecute and hold accountable those who engage in organized criminal enterprises and gang conspiracies in furtherance of racketeering. This office is proud to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to disrupt the Gangster Disciples gang and punish their leaders and members for the violence and lawlessness that they perpetrate across West Tennessee. Crawford will now take a long ‘trip’ to the federal penitentiary for his violent gang leadership and activity."

This prosecution was brought as part of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations, and to diminish the violence and other criminal activity associated with the drug trade. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, money laundering, and violent organizations.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Jackson Police Department Gang Enforcement Team, Memphis Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 28th Judicial District West Tennessee Drug Task Force, 26th, 25th, and 30th Judicial District Attorney’s General Offices, Sheriff’s Offices for Tipton, DeSoto, Madison and Fayette Counties, Police Departments of Bartlett, Germantown and Columbia, TN.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Beth C. Boswell and Annie Christoff of the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Shauna Hale of the Criminal Division Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

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Contact: 
Cherri Green Public Affairs (901) 544-4231 Cherri.Green@usdoj.gov
Updated March 11, 2020