Charlotte, North Carolina - Two North Carolina members of the United Blood Nation (UBN or Bloods) street gang have pleaded guilty to Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy involving multiple murders.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray for the Western District of North Carolina and Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office, made the announcement.
Tyquan Ramont Powell, aka Savage, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Lamonte Kentrell Lloyd, aka Murda Mo and Moo, 25, of Scotland Neck, North Carolina, both admitted their membership in the UBN and participation in the racketeering enterprise through acts involving murder and robbery.
According to court documents, Powell and Lloyd committed two murders and three attempted murders over the course of less than a month. Powell and Lloyd committed the first murder in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, in January 2016 by shooting into a car with three occupants because they believed that one of the occupants was cooperating with law enforcement and intended to testify in a criminal case against a close associate of the defendants. Bullets struck all three occupants and the intended target of the shooting was killed. The Defendants then fled to, among other places, Charlotte, North Carolina, where they sought and received refuge and resources from UBN members and associates while attempting to evade arrest.
Also according to court documents, Powell and Lloyd committed murder in Gastonia, North Carolina, in February 2016. The Defendants attempted to rob four victims using handguns. When the victims resisted the defendants’ robbery attempt, Powell fired his firearm and killed one of the victims. Also in February 2016, according to court documents, Powell and Lloyd attempted to rob another victim. Lloyd shot the victim in the back of the head, but the victim was effectively treated for his injuries at the hospital and lived.
According to court documents and evidence presented at a May 2018 trial against the godfathers of the UBN, the UBN is a violent criminal street gang operating throughout the east coast of the United States since it was founded as a prison gang in 1993. UBN members are often identified by their use of the color red, and can also often be identified by common tattoos or burn marks. Examples include: a three-circle pattern, usually burned onto the upper arm, known as a “dog paw”; the acronym “M.O.B.,” which stands for “Member of Bloods”; the words “damu,” or “eastside”; the number five; the five-pointed star and the five-pointed crown. UBN members have distinct hand signs and written codes, which are used to identify other members and rival gang members.
Members of the UBN are expected to conduct themselves and their illegal activity according to rules and regulations set by their leaders. Prominent among these is a requirement to pay monthly dues to the organization, often in the amounts of $31 or $93. UBN gang dues are derived from illegal activity performed by subordinate UBN members including narcotics trafficking, robberies and wire fraud, among other forms of illegal racketeering activity.
In May 2017, 83 members of the UBN were indicted in the Western District of North Carolina for crimes including RICO conspiracy. Seventy-eight defendants have now either pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial due to this investigation, and 68 have been sentenced. A jury convicted three top leaders of the UBN of racketeering conspiracy in May 2018, and one defendant was convicted of racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy at trial in July 2019. Seventy-four defendants have pleaded guilty in this investigation, including four who participated in the racketeering conspiracy by, among other crimes, committing a murder in July 2016 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI; the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department; the Shelby Police Department; the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office; the Gastonia Police Department; the North Carolina State Highway Patrol; the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office; the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice; the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles; Scotland Neck Police Department; the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation; the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office; the U.S. Federal Probation; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the IRS Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Office of Special Investigations.
Trial Attorney Beth Lipman of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matt Warren and Christopher Hess for the Western District of North Carolina are prosecuting the case.
This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program. OCDETF is a joint federal, state and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.