Federal authorities struck a blow at a major street gang this week, indicting 48 alleged members of the Chicago-based Gangster Disciples.
Indictments filed in Atlanta and Memphis lay out a salacious tale of murder, drug trafficking and robbery, along with more mundane allegations involving insurance and bank fraud, among other offenses.
The case vastly expands an investigation that DeKalb County authorities unveiled last fall when they charged several alleged gang members with a string of five homicides in Stone Mountain and south DeKalb.
The DeKalb case was the basis for an investigative story in Atlanta Journal-Constitution that chronicled the lives of some of those who died and some who were accused of murder.
The new federal indictments discuss two of the victims who appeared in the article: Demarco Franklin and Edward Chadmon. Authorities say Franklin was killed after a run-in with a member of the Gangster Disciples. Chadmon died in a Stone Mountain motel room, where gang members allegedly were trying to rob a drug dealer. It is not clear from court records whether Chadmon was connected to the drug dealer.
Chadmon was pursuing a career as a rapper, and he frequently struck a tough pose in pictures posted on social media. But alongside pictures of Chadmon carrying an assault rifle are photos of him holding his young daughter.
Federal authorities gave no new details on Oliver "Poopoo" Campbell, 20, another aspiring rapper whose brief life played out along a mile-long stretch of Candler Road. DeKalb authorities described him as a gang member, an allegation strongly denied by his mother. Indeed, while photos of Campbell posing with guns, drugs and money were prominent across social media, evidence of any gang affiliation was scant. He was described as the proud father of his baby boy, named Messiah.
Like the killings last year, the crimes described this week reveal a subculture that rarely gets much attention except in brief stories on the local television news or deep inside the newspaper.
The ready availability of drugs and guns – and the constant threat of violence – deeply affect neighborhoods across metro Atlanta, especially in places like south DeKalb, where much of the alleged gang activity centers.
For more on the gang culture in south DeKalb, go here.