Half a dozen gang members from around metro Atlanta were indicted Wednesday on multiple federal charges related to the death of a teenager in Bartow County.
Six members of the “135 Pirus” street gang face charges ranging from conspiracy to obstruct justice to murder in aid of racketeering. The nine charges are connected to a string of violent crimes committed around north Atlanta, including one that killed a 17-year-old.
Authorities say the crime string began when 27-year-old Maurice Antonio Kent, a gang leader, fired multiple rounds into a crowd of people outside a Brookhaven nightclub in May 2017. The shots injured a security guard and a member of another gang. Police believe the shooting was Kent’s response to someone he heard disrespect a high-ranking 135 Pirus gang member.
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Brookhaven police arrested Kent at the scene, but soon after that, his gang came to believe one of their members, a 17-year old, was talking to police about the shooting. According to U.S. Attorney BJay Pak, the 135 Pirus gang’s rules call for death of any gang member who cooperates with law enforcement.
Authorities believe Christopher Nwanjoku, 25, Jamel Dupree Hughes, 24, Jennifer Foutz, 25, and Cedric Sams Jr., 25, devised a plan to lure the teenager to Bartow County and then kill him. The boy’s body was later discovered lying on the side of a rural road in Bartow County.
Hughes and Foutz were arrested just a few days later by undercover police officers after allegedly shooting a member of another gang at a gas station in Acworth.
“Gangs like the 135 Pirus drive violence in our communities and show no regard for human life,” Pak said in a press release. “The members and associates in this case were allegedly involved in a multitude of violent acts, including a murder, and are being prosecuted under our Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative aimed at stopping this very criminal activity.”
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Authorities say the 135 Pirus gang originated in Compton, California, and leaders of the gang in Georgia maintain ties with California gang leadership. In Atlanta, the gang divides itself into a Southside/Atlanta group, a Northside/North group and a Northwest Georgia group.
Members allegedly commit acts of violence, including murder, as well as engage in drug trafficking and other criminal money-making schemes, to be promoted and maintain standing within the the gang.
The gang members who have been charged include:
- Maurice Antonio Kent, also known by the name "Savage Duze," of Cartersville, who is charged with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Kent is a leader of the 135 Pirus group based in Cartersville, authorities say.
- Christopher Nwanjoku, also known by the name "Problem," of Lawrenceville, who is charged with murder in aid of racketeering and use of firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death. Nwanjoku is a leader of the Northside 135 Pirus group based in Gwinnett County, authorities say.
- Jamel Dupree Hughes, also known as "Savage," of Atlanta, who is charged with murder in aid of racketeering, use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death, attempted murder in aid of racketeering and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
- Cedric Sams, Jr., also known as "Awall," of Cartersville, who is charged with murder in aid of racketeering and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death. Authorities say Sams is a member of Northwest Georgia 135 Pirus group.
- Jennifer Foutz, also known as "Rose," of Acworth, who is charged with murder in aid of racketeering, use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Foutz is the "First Lady" of the Northwest Georgia 135 Pirus group, authorities say.
- Michael Kent, also known as "Wikked," 27, of Atlanta, who is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice. He is Maurice Antonio Kent's twin brother.
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