A federal grand jury has indicted 17 mid-state individuals, including 11 members of the Vice Lords gang and their drug suppliers, for their participation in a drug distribution conspiracy and associated violence while illegally possessing firearms, announced Jerry E. Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. Two of those arrested are Murfreesboro residents. Joining Martin in the announcement at an afternoon press conference were Keith Moses, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI-Memphis Division, Nashville Resident Agency; William Benson, Assistant Director-Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Scott Bowen, Chief-Lebanon Police Department; Terry Ashe, Sheriff of Wilson County; Odie Shoupe, Sheriff of White County; Jeff Guth, Chief-Sparta Police Department; and Captain Jim Hutcherson, Tennessee Highway Patrol.
On Friday, federal, state and local law enforcement agents, armed with search warrants and arrest warrants, began arresting those charged in the indictment. Fifteen of the 17 defendants are in custody. Two remain at large.
Those charged with conspiracy to possess, with the intent to distribute crack cocaine, cocaine and marijuana are identified as:
Jessie Lee Allen aka “Jeezy,” 24, of Lebanon, Tennessee;
James Bean aka “Little Mighty,” 27, of Decherd, Tennessee;
Brad Eliot Benedict aka “Kinfolk,” 34, of Lebanon, Tennessee;
Jeffery Jermaine Benson aka “Black,” 28, of Lebanon, Tenessee;
Marcus Antwan Carey aka “Forty,” 31, of Lebanon, Tennessee;
Ricky Fenn aka ‘Halfbreed,” 27, of Lebanon, Tennessee;
Cameron Vintez Hastings aka “Cat Dig,” 26, of Lebanon, Tennessee;
Jermaine L. Jackson aka “Blue,” 34, of Lebanon, Tennessee;
Charles Houston Mount, Jr. Aka “C-Red,” 29, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee;
Corey Dregis Neal aka “Big Real,” 40, of Lebanon, Tennessee;
Raytheon Tyeaze Neal aka “Rathy,” 27, of Lebanon, Tennessee;
Christopher Nicholson aka “Chris Lopez,” 34, of Nashville, Tennessee;
Sterling Reneva Rivers aka “Little Real,” 24, of Lebanon, Tennessee;
Monique Smith aka “Money,” 40, of Cookeville, Tennessee;
Orlando Steverson aka “C-Nut,” 29, of Lebanon, Tennessee;and
Maurice Thompson aka “Reese,” 24, of Nashville, Tennessee.
Allen, Bean, Benson, Mount and Rivers were also indicted on related federal firearms charges.
If convicted, these individuals face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Kevin Dwayne Thompson aka “Clump,” 25, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee was indicted on charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
“This Office has a relentless commitment to targeting, investigating and vigorously prosecuting violent street gangs who choose to operate in Middle Tennessee communities,” said U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin. “We are confident of the ability of our law enforcement partners to identify and penetrate even the most careful and well organized gangs in this area.”
According to the indictment, the object of the conspiracy included, among others, the acquisition of large quantities of controlled substances, including, but not limited to, cocaine, and marijuana, for distribution in Middle Tennessee.
The manner in which the conspiracy was conducted included actual and attempted acts of violence including murder, attempted murder, and assault to protect the gang's criminal operations. The indictment also alleges that members of the conspiracy and their associates robbed rival drug dealers of controlled substances and proceeds derived from the sale of controlled substances, promoted a climate of fear through violence and threats of violence and used and threatened to use physical violence against various individuals.
Jeffery Benson and Sterling Rivers remain at large. Anyone having information on their whereabouts is asked to call the FBI at 615-232-7500 or your local law enforcement agency.
The investigation was a joint operation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Lebanon Police Department, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, the Sparta Police Department, the Cookeville Police Department, the White County Sheriff’s Office, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Braden H. Boucek.
An indictment is merely an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant has the right to a trial by jury, at which the government must bear the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.