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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 23, 2018

Regional Enforcer of Gangster Disciples Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Racketeering

A Gangster Disciples gang member was sentenced today to 360 months in prison and five years of supervised release for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan 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 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.

Henry Cooper, aka Big Hen, 37, of Memphis, Tennessee, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. of the Western District of Tennessee. Cooper previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity.

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. 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.

According to statements made at his sentencing hearing, Cooper was a Gangster Disciple from 1992 until the time of his arrest in 2016. Furthermore, he was a high-ranking member of the Gangster Disciples, and at the time of indictment and arrest in this case served as the Regional Enforcer for the State of Tennessee. As the Regional Enforcer, Cooper was responsible for enforcement in Tennessee and six other states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Wisconsin. One of Cooper’s responsibilities was to pass along information from the Chief Enforcer for the Gangster Disciples to enforcers in these states. Cooper also oversaw the enforcement of punishments, supervised the criminal activities of other members, issued orders to commit violent offenses against rivals and subordinates, and presided over Gangster Disciple meetings where criminal activity was discussed.

Cooper also participated directly in the activities of the gang, including acts involving murder, kidnapping, assault, witness intimidation, narcotics distribution, and weapons trafficking. Cooper’s participation in the criminal activities of the Gangster Disciples spanned approximately 25 years.

The FBI; ATF; the Memphis Multi-Agency Gang Unit; the Memphis Police Department; the Shelby County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; the Jackson Police Department Gang Enforcement Team; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; the Madison County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Department; the 28th District West Tennessee Drug Task Force; The Tipton County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office; the 26th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office; the 25th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office; the Atascosa County, Tennessee District Attorney’s Office; and the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office investigated this case. Trial Attorney Francesca Liquori of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and 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 March 23, 2018