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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 19, 2018

Gangster Disciple “Governor” Sentenced to 360 Months in Federal Prison

 Jackson, TN – A Gangster Disciple member was sentenced to 360 months imprisonment and five years of supervised release for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee, Special Agent in Charge, Michael T. Gavin of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jack Webb of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), made the announcement.

Byron Montrail Purdy, a/k/a "Lil B" or "Ghetto," 38, of Jackson, Tennessee, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr. Purdy previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity.

United States Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: "Attorney General Sessions has made it clear that the top priority for the Department of Justice is violent crime reduction, and here in the Western District of Tennessee, we are vigorously pursuing that priority by using the full complement of government resources and partnering with local and state law enforcement to disrupt racketeering conspiracies and dismantle criminal gangs. This case demonstrates our resolve to aggressively prosecute those who engage in organized criminal enterprises and gang conspiracies to commit violent crimes and narcotics and weapons offenses 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 hold them accountable for the violence and lawlessness that they perpetrate across West Tennessee. The message from this case is clear: If you are a member of a criminal gang, your days are numbered, and there will be a reckoning."

The Gangster Disciples is a highly organized national gang active in more than 24 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. Members and associates of the gang are subject to a strict code of discipline and are routinely fined, beaten, and even murdered for failing to follow the gang’s rules. The Gangster Disciples promotes its enterprise through member-only activities and provides financial and other support to members charged with or incarcerated for gang-related offenses or who are fugitives from law enforcement.

The highest-ranking Gangster Disciple within the State of Tennessee holds the title of "Governor." The Governor manages gang activities within Tennessee and is responsible for coordinating much of the criminal activity that occurs within the state.

Acting ATF Special Agent in Charge Jack Webb remarked, "ATFs priority of reducing violent crime is a result of the sentencing of the criminal element that have preyed on our communities. The collaborative efforts of law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office continue to provide a safe environment for the public."

"We focus our investigations on the leadership of the criminal organizations that sell and distribute illegal drugs and use violence against anyone who gets in their way," said Michael T. Gavin, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "This sentencing is the result of the dogged efforts and precision investigating by the FBI and our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that prey on our communities."

According to his plea agreement, Purdy was a ranking member of the Gangster Disciples and at time of indictment and arrest on this case served as the Governor for the State of Tennessee. As the highest leader for the Gangster Disciples, Purdy directed other members and associates of the gang to carry out unlawful activities in furtherance of the conduct of the gang’s affairs. Purdy was responsible for coordinating criminal activities with other Gangster Disciples gang leaders throughout the United States, supervising the criminal activities of the gang, issuing orders to kill rivals and disobedient gang subordinates, and presiding over Gangster Disciples meetings.

Captain Phillip Kemper of the Jackson Police Department’s Special Operations Division said: "Today’s sentence of 30 years for Byron Purdy’s gang activity should send a serious warning to gang members of all factions in Jackson, Memphis and throughout West Tennessee that their continued reign of terror through actions of violence, intimidation, and all manner of firearms and narcotics trafficking will eventually come to an end. This investigation of Purdy included crimes involving racketeering activity, which spanned two and half decades. Byron Purdy, who was the head of the Gangster Disciple enterprise for the State of Tennessee will now spend the majority of his adult life in Federal Prison. Gang life only leads to two places: the grave, or prison for an extended period of time. Jackson, West Tennessee and the United States of America are safer places today as a result of this sentence."

Purdy also participated directly in the activities of the gang, including acts involving murder, kidnapping, assault, narcotics distribution, intimidation of witnesses, and weapons trafficking. Purdy’s participation in the criminal activities of the Gangster Disciples spanned approximately twenty years.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the Memphis Multi-Agency Gang Unit; Memphis Police Department; Shelby County Sheriff’s Office; Jackson Police Department Gang Enforcement Team; Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Madison County Sheriff’s Department; 28th District West Tennessee Drug Task Force; Tipton County Sheriff’s Office; 26th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office; 25th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office; Atascosa County District Attorney’s Office; and the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Beth Boswell of the Western District of Tennessee and Samuel Stringfellow of the Northern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorney Francesca Liquori of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting this case on the government’s behalf.

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Updated January 19, 2018