Fulton DA: Burglary crew used TV, social media to target celebrity victims

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Gang allegedly planned string of home invasions

A metro Atlanta gang accused of burglarizing the homes of celebrities and athletes used a combination of television and social media to select their targets, officials said Monday.

A 220-count indictment handed up last week in Fulton County charges 26 alleged members of the “Drug Rich” gang with plotting and carrying out a string of home invasions and burglaries across the area over the past year.

Among the celebrities targeted were singer Mariah Carey, Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Marlo Hampton, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said at a news conference. A woman who shares a child with popular rapper Future was also one of the 16 alleged victims targeted in Fulton, Willis said.

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Of the 26 defendants charged in the racketeering case, 18 are in custody, Willis told reporters.

According to the DA, the Drug Rich gang started in the Stone Mountain, Lithonia and Tucker neighborhoods of DeKalb County in 2016. Willis described it as a “hybrid gang” whose members have ties to the Bloods, Crips and Gangster Disciples.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

“They committed crimes everywhere from the south to the north of my county,” Willis said, crediting two Sandy Springs detectives with cracking the cases.

The earliest crime alleged in the indictment was a 2018 carjacking, and the latest happened last month, Willis said.

“What they did was target people who showed their wealth on social media,” Willis said, cautioning celebrities and influencers not to be too flashy when it comes to posting their valuables on the internet.

While no killings have been publicly linked to the gang, Willis said Drug Rich is responsible for a sting of kidnappings, armed robberies, shootings and other violent crimes. Similar investigations are likely underway in surrounding counties, she said.

Most of the defendants face multiple counts of violating the street gang terrorism and prevention act, with some facing a slew of other charges: attempted murder, home invasion, kidnapping, burglary, aggravated assault, theft by receiving, drug possession, terroristic threats, possession of illegal weapons and false imprisonment.

The investigation uncovered that Jeremy Caldwell, who was recently arrested in Florida, was a leader and responsible for the burglary and home invasion business of the gang, according to arrest warrants. He faces 82 charges.

The warrants allege the members typically identify a target and scout the property before going into homes and taking items. The stolen valuables are then sold for a profit, prosecutors allege.

Many of the charges in the indictment — 65 of 220 — stem from an Oct. 1, 2021 burglary, home invasion and attempted kidnapping at a home along Northside Drive. According to arrest warrants, a group of eight alleged gang members, led by Caldwell, entered the home that day and forced a 16-year-old girl out of the shower, took her and her mom into a room together and threatened to harm the girl if the mother didn’t give them valuables. Several items, including two vehicles, were stolen.

Eleven defendants, including Caldwell, were charged in the Oct. 1 incident. Others are charged with attempted murder after a man was shot July 4 at a home on Parkside Place in Sandy Springs.

This racketeering case is one of multiple gang indictments Willis has pursued since taking office. She is also prosecuting the YSL street gang, allegedly run by Atlanta rappers Young Thug and Gunna.

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“We are continuing our mission to target gangs as we believe it is our No. 1 public safety crisis,” Willis said.