Collaboration between Crips and Gangster Disciples in the Midlands of South Carolina

This Tuesday, more than 200 law enforcement officers from local, federal, and state agencies arrested 14 alleged gang associates from the Midlands of South Carolina, concluding a nearly two-year investigation.

The fourteen defendants were charged in a federal complaint with participating in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and oxycodone.

Peter McCoy, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, announced the arrests after the defendants were charged in federal court. The arrests conclude an investigation into activities and gang-related violence by Crips and the Gangster Disciples, across Lexington, Kershaw, and Richland counties in metro Columbia.

Individual defendants were charged for a range of activities including murders, shootings, robberies, carjackings, and drug trafficking operations, conducted around the city of Columbia and throughout the Midlands. Much of the violence was attributed to inter-gang competition for control of turf.

The Columbia Violent Gang Task Force investigation

According to the announcement, the Columbia Violent Gang Task Force (CVGTF) began investigating an uptick in gang-related violence in the Midlands region in July 2018. The CVGTF is an FBI-led joint task force consisting of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and the Columbia Police Department (Columbia is the county seat in Richland County).

The task force also partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration and was assisted by a number of local law enforcement agencies, including the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office. Both of those counties are considered part of metro Columbia.

Court records reviewed by FITSNews of Irmo, SC, discuss the Rollin 60s, describing them as a Crips “set” with roughly 6,000 to 8,000 members. CVGTF agents believe there are about 100 Rollin 60s Crips in the Columbia area.

The criminal complaint brings up the ominous development of inter-gang collaboration in narcotics trafficking: In some specific neighborhoods around Columbia, law enforcement officers have observed known Rollin 60s Crips occasionally merging their criminal operations with other violent gangs such as Gangster Disciples (GDs) in order to increase profit and influence in those areas.

The volatile mixing of gangs has been responsible for several violent incidents in metro Columbia, according to court records.

Columbia Violent Gang Task Force investigators began by developing street sources to identify key gang members, through surveillance and interviews. Agents with a court order tapped into several phone calls between the alleged gang members.

The criminal complaint specifies that authorities identified Maurice Antwain Leach, 33, and Anthony Charles Britt, 31, as alleged Crips members who were distributing kilogram quantities of cocaine and running trap houses.

Investigators then discovered other players in the drug trafficking scheme, including Reginald Keith Furgess, 61, and Christopher Daquan Melton, 27, who were either Crips or Gangster Disciples members, according to court documents.

In April 2019, investigators began conducting phone calls and controlled purchases of cocaine and crack cocaine in a sting operation. A series of purchases were conducted, according to court documents.

The case is being prosecuted as part of a Department of Justice initiative called Project Safe Neighborhoods. This initiative provides a framework in which federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community leaders are brought together, to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a given community and to develop comprehensive solutions to those problems.

The Rollin 60's Neighborhood Crips

The Rollin 60's Neighborhood Crips are primarily based in Los Angeles. They originally formed in Los Angeles in 1976 and have since spread to other cities in the United States.

Their most infamous member was Ermias Joseph Asghedom, a rapper turned-entrepreneur known professionally as Nipsey Hussle. In March 2019, Nipsey Hussle was shot at least 10 times in the parking lot of his store, Marathon Clothing, in South Los Angeles. He was taken to the hospital, where he died from his wounds. Upon hearing the news of his death, numerous celebrities offered their condolences, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.