Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suspected Gang Lords Arrested; They Are Linked to Violent Group with Presence in Four Counties

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suspected Gang Lords Arrested; They Are Linked to Violent Group with Presence in Four Counties

Article excerpt

Byline: JIM SCHOETTLER

They were a proud, thieving, gun-slinging family.

There were top dogs and wannabes, who sought respect through meanness and hustling.

When one got killed or arrested, the others made up T-shirts in his honor. If one got jailed, the others ensured he had money for the commissary. If one got shot, others would retaliate.

Many grew up together and went to the same Jacksonville high school. And police and prosecutors say they became partners in a business that, those authorities hope, will lead to their ultimate downfall.

Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said Tuesday that seven men arrested in the past two years were the leaders of a violent street gang that wreaked havoc in Duval, Clay, Volusia and Leon counties.

The men, all tied to Westside neighborhoods off 103rd Street, have been charged in the past few weeks under a state law that allows gang members to be prosecuted as members of a criminal enterprise. They are accused under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations statute of committing crimes, ranging from robbery to car theft, for the gang or benefit of the gang.

Police and prosecutors said with 204 felonies and 221 misdemeanors under their belts, business was good. And information released Tuesday about the men and their gang give one of the most detailed accountings of such violence ever made public in Jacksonville.

Leaders include Jeremi "J-Shasta" Chaplin, 22, who Rutherford said earned a reputation of robbing drug dealers and shooting up parties and clubs beginning when he was 17. Other leaders were identified as Antonio "Tiger" Williams, 20; Reginald "Young Smoke" Lewis II, 23; Courtney "Chicago" Frierson, 19; Sharodd "Ville" Mitchell, 20; and Darien "D" Flowers, 19; and Vincent "Poppa" Byrd, 23.

The men face a maximum of 60 years in prison in the RICO case. They are being held on $1 million bail.

Rutherford said another 17 gangs with 221 members are operating in the city. He called RICO a "big hammer" that he intends to use to eliminate those groups.

The 18-month probe was labeled Operation 103rd St. CHB. It was named after a part of the gang known as the 103rd Street Certified Head Bustas. …

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