Memphis drug ring tied to street gang busted, authorities announce

U.S. District Attorney Michael Dunavant

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 16-member drug trafficking ring that operated in the North Memphis area was “dismantled” by a federal indictment, U.S. District Attorney Michael Dunavant announced Wednesday.

Operation Grapes of Wrath targeted the drug ring, which was tied to the Grape Street Crips street gang, authorities said.

Charges in the indictment are related to distribution of heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl and ecstasy, as well as firearms violations.

Twelve of the 16 defendants were taken into custody July 25, Dunavant said. Fourteen of those defendants are from Memphis, one is from Jackson, Tennessee and one from Los Angeles.

Dunavant said the ATF began investigating several shootings in Memphis last summer and developed multiple suspects tied to drug trafficking.

“Drug trafficking offenses are not victimless crimes. Distribution of meth, heroin and fentanyl causes death and contributes to addiction and violence in our communities every day,” he said.

In response to to the indictment, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said, “The Grape Street Crips is a gang that has been on our radar for some time.”

In 2016, her office filed a gang injunction against them because of their activity in the Tillman area. Weirich said gang members were doing then what they are now accused of, dealing drugs and terrorizing a community.

The defendants charged in the indictment are:

Travon Allen a/k/a “Little Y,” 30, Los Angeles, California
Ozene Benson, 27, Memphis, Tennessee
Vincent Boykin a/k/a “Veto,” 31, Memphis, Tennessee
Antwan Brown, 31, Memphis, Tennessee
Christopher Brown, 29, Memphis, Tennessee
Lonnell Davis, 41, Memphis, Tennessee
Clifton Graves, 35, Memphis, Tennessee
Preston Hampton a/k/a “Grape da Shooter,” 26, Memphis, Tennessee
Amber Howe, 31, Memphis, Tennessee
Claude Cordell Irby, 23, Memphis, Tennessee
Eddie Johnson a/k/a “Eddie Grape,” 36, Memphis, Tennessee
Lapheal Johnson a/k/a “Peaches,” 25, Jackson, Tennessee
Tionna Jones, 24, Memphis, Tennessee
Terrell Kennedy, 34, Memphis, Tennessee
Antonio Lurry, 37, Memphis, Tennessee
Tarzell Worles a/k/a “Snugg,” 26, Memphis, Tennessee

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