MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Twelve alleged gang members have been charged with racketeering, robbery and drug trafficking in a federal indictment connected to a series of pharmacy robberies in Memphis.
The defendants were part of the Concrete Street Cartel, a subset of the Chicago-based street gang Conservative Vice Lords, law enforcement officials said. Locally, the gang operates with leaders in Whitehaven, Orange Mound, East Memphis, South Memphis and North Memphis.
The indictment alleges that the Concrete Cartel robbed pharmacies and would later distribute and sell the stolen opioids or controlled substances on the streets of Memphis and
All individuals charged with multiple gun violations. Charges also include RICO, drugs, robbery. pic.twitter.com/fyY32uMo72
— Zaneta Lowe (@wregzaneta) August 11, 2017
The defendants named in the indictment are Davante Turner, William Pinkney, Markease Alexander, Nernest Nesby, Lashawn Shannon, Tondwin Lewis, Arterrious McCalleum, Travon Jones, Rickey Bell, Ariq Eric Rayford, Clemeko Dewayne Starks Jr., and Darnell Trevon Jordan.
Seven business robberies in the Memphis area were specifically mentioned by officials, including pharmacies, gas stations and one vape shop.
The indictments were announced Friday by Lawrence Laurenzi, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.
According to a release from Laurenzi's office, gang members rise up the ranks through acts of violence, including shootings, robbing, and drug and human trafficking.
"The Concrete Cartel encourages robbing businesses, mainly pharmacies, to take opioids and other Schedule II controlled substances to enrich themselves and the membership."
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Safe Street Task Force and the Multi-Agency Gang Unit of the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant
U.S. Attorney Kevin Whitmore is prosecuting this case on the government’s behalf.