For Immediate Release
Members and Associates of Violent Louisville Street Gang Charged in 40 Count Indictment with Conspiring to Obtain Firearms for Convicted Felons
Arrests resulted from Louisville Metro Intelligence Joint Task Force Charges included 32 firearms, ammunition, and explosive materials
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman, joined by Special Agent in Charge Louisville Field Division of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Stuart L. Lowrey, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad, and Special Agent in Charge Federal Bureau of Investigation Amy Hess, announced the results today, of an ongoing investigation in to violent criminal activity, within Jefferson County, Kentucky, with the indictment and arrests of members and associates of the Victory Park Crips. These charges result from an investigation by Louisville Metro Intel (LM Intel): an intelligence-led task force which identifies serious, violent offenders and leverages all available resources to investigate, apprehend and prosecute these offenders. The LM Intel Joint Task Force was announced in January of 2017, and includes the United States Attorney’s Office, federal investigative agencies, state prosecutors and Louisville Metro Police.
The forty-count superseding indictment was unsealed late yesterday afternoon following the arrests of Chicoby Summers, 22, Shelby Strong, 33, Jerlen Horton, 23, Derrick Hammond, 33, and Lakeshia Watts, 23. All are from Louisville and are in federal custody following their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge Colin H. Lindsay, late yesterday afternoon in Louisville.
At all times relevant to the conspiracy, Hammond, Summers, and Horton were convicted felons, and they had close relationships with each other as well as other members of the Victory Park Crips (VPC), a violent street gang operating primarily in the west end of Louisville. Lakeshia Watts shared a residence with Horton and Shelby Strong was an associate of Hammond. Members and associates of the VPC use firearms to aid narcotics trafficking, preserve and protect power and reputation by intimidation and violence against rival gangs. The culture of the VPC glorifies guns and violence, and firearms are a status symbol to members.
According to the charges, beginning in February of 2017, the defendants conspired to obtain firearms through the use of straw purchasers (associates who had no felony convictions and could lawfully purchase firearms). It was further part of the conspiracy that firearms purchased by straw purchasers were transferred ultimately to convicted felons, aided and abetted by others. Federal law prohibits convicted felons from purchasing or owning firearms, prohibits a buyer from purchasing a weapon on behalf of another person, and prohibits an unlawful user of a controlled substance to possess a firearm.
All defendants are charged in count one with conspiracy to possess a firearm by a prohibited person. Defendants Horton, Hammond and Watts are further charged with conspiring to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding. Additionally, Strong is charged with engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license. Strong is further charged with making material false statements in order to acquire firearms from River City Firearms and Cabela’s and for illegally possessing firearms as a habitual drug user. Strong is also charged, along with Hammond, for transferring firearms to convicted felons.
Summers and Horton are charged with illegal possession of multiple firearms by convicted felons. Horton is further charged with received and possessing explosive material including two LIDU, 1.3g, 2 inch display shells; two LIDU, 1.3g, 3 inch display shell, and one Legend, 1.3g, 4 inch TI Salute shell.
If convicted at trial, defendants face up to ten years in prison for each count for counts 2-34 and 36-40; and up to five years for each of counts one and 35. All counts carry a fine of $250,000 and each count includes a three-year period of supervised release.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with the support of the Louisville Metro Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The charge of a person by a Grand Jury Indictment is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty