Notorious DeKalb gang linked to series of murders

They were the in-house enforcers of one of DeKalb County’s most notorious gangs, so unforgiving they killed fellow members who failed to attend mandatory meetings or pay dues to fund the syndicate’s criminal enterprises, according to law enforcement.

The Hate Committee members, so brazen they had T-shirts made bearing the moniker, were responsible for five deaths between May 13th and July 30th, said DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James, who this week secured a 45-count indictment against nine of “the most dangerous members of the gang.” The charges include malice murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery.

James said this week’s indictment is just “the tip of the iceberg.”

“What we had here is a reign of terror in DeKalb County,” he told reporters Friday.

Gangs have become a growth industry, locally and nationwide. A National Gang Threat Assessment, released by the Department of Justice in 2011, estimated 1.4 million gang members in the U.S., an increase of 400,000 from two years earlier. And a majority of respondents, from police jurisdictions across the country, to the FBI’s National Gang Report, released in 2013, said they’ve seen a significant rise in gang membership and related criminal activity.

Atlanta police say they are now tracking approximately 120 gangs, more than double the number they identified just six years ago. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said recently that in 2004, his office prosecuted four defendants with participating in street gang activity. That number rose to 89 in 2014.

“Since 2002, I’ve seen the gang problem grow from a few kids to nationally recognized organizations, many who are now operating within (DeKalb),” James said Friday. “I want this indictment to serve as a notice to gang members.”

The ringleader, according to the indictment, was 25-year-old Donald Glass, aka “Smurf.” Acting at the behest of the Gangster Disciples, founded in the late 1960s in Chicago, Glass allegedly gave the orders to kill.

Six Hate Committee associates — Karim Ficklin, 19; Joseph Broxton, 20; Daniel Pena, 22; Rodricous Gresham, 25; Perry Green, 18 and Quantavious Hurt, 17 — face multiple murder charges. Christopher Hamlett, 23 and Sharita Nelson, 22, were indicted on armed robbery and drug charges.

“It is an organized criminal street gang with a specific rank structure and rules that are to be followed precisely,” the indictment states.

Structurally, the Disciples are run almost like a corporation, led by founder Larry Hoover, now 65 and incarcerated in Illinois. There are two boards of directors under Hoover, one in prison, another on the street, according to an Associated Press profile, along with a set of governors and associate governors and another layer of “regents.”

The Hate Committee acts as the muscle, primarily for the Gangster Disciples. Their primary mission, according to prosecutors: Purge members who’ve failed to uphold the gang’s rigid protocols, James said.

But not all the victims were Disciples. Demarco Franklin, killed July 1 outside a convenience store, had “disrespected” Hurt, the youngest of Hate Committee members indicted this week, the indictment states.

Franklin was ambushed while walking with his girlfriend and her 3-year-old son.

The other victims, all fatally shot, were identified as Tory Alston, Edward Chadmon, Oliver Campbell and Rocqwell Nelson.

James said “a good bit” of the homicides he prosecutes are gang-related. And while much of the violence is directed at other members, “when gangs go to war, innocent bystanders get killed.”

Earlier this year, a member of the Bloods was convicted in the 2014 fatal shootings of two DeKalb residents, including a 17-year-old girl, after a fracas erupted during a party to watch a Floyd Mayweather fight. A retaliatory home invasion left a 9-month-old baby dead and three women "critically injured, " police said.

“We are dealing with a violent street gang that is organized and determined,” James said. “We are more organized and more determined.”

DeKalb Public Safety Director Cedric Alexander said more arrests could follow in connection with the Hate Committee syndicate.