Skip to main content
Press Release

Member of Gangster Disciples Pleads Guilty to RICO Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Tennessee

Memphis, TN – One of 16 alleged Gangster Disciples members and associates indicted on racketeering charges in May 2016 pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy. Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western Division of Tennessee, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Gavin of the FBI’s Memphis Division, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jack Webb of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Memphis Field Division, made the announcement.

Tommy Earl Champion, Jr., a/k/a "Duct Tape," 29, of Jackson, Tennessee, pleaded guilty on April 2 before U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. to one count of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering offense, and one count of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

According to the 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 financial and other support to members charged with or incarcerated for gang-related offenses or who are fugitives from law enforcement.

Members and associates of the Gangster Disciples are subject to a strict code of discipline and are routinely fined, beaten, and even murdered for failing to follow the gang’s rules. "Enforcers" within the enterprise ensure that members who violate the strict rules of the enterprise are appropriately punished.

Champion is scheduled to be sentenced on July 6, 2018.

This prosecution was brought as part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. 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 and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

The FBI; ATF; the Memphis Multi-Agency Gang Unit; the Memphis Police Department; the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office; the Jackson Police Department Gang Enforcement Team; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; the Madison County Sheriff’s Department; the 28th Judicial District West Tennessee Drug Task Force; the Tipton County Sheriff’s Office; the 26th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office; the 25th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office; the Atascosa County District Attorney’s Office; and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office investigated this case.

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

Updated April 11, 2018