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story.lead_photo.caption “Today’s operation is a victory over gun, gang and drug violence,” Cody Hiland (left), U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said Thursday. With Hiland are Stephen Azzam (second from left), Little Rock special agent in charge of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner. ( Mitchell PE Masilun)

Officials say 21 people were arrested on federal charges Thursday morning in a wide-ranging takedown operation, part of a larger effort to target gangs and violent criminals in Arkansas' capital city.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Cody Hiland, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, reported that authorities that morning arrested 21 of the 49 defendants listed in two complaints and 13 federal indictments.

"Today's operation is a victory over gun, gang and drug violence," Hiland said. "But I want to make it clear, this is just a start of what the combined resources of these law enforcement agencies can do."

The federal office in Little Rock also reported seizing drugs, firearms and vehicles in the Thursday operation, which Hiland said involved more than 250 agents and officers from agencies across the state. According to the release, authorities seized 21 illegally possessed guns, 9.6 pounds of cocaine, 293 Ecstasy pills and 7.2 ounces of crack cocaine, among other drugs. The office also said agents seized four cars, one motorcycle and about $50,000 "in drug proceeds."

[DOCUMENT: Defendant list, arrest summary, charges filed]

Officials reported at the news conference that nine of the people indicted remained fugitives.

For the first time, authorities also publicly identified two gangs involved in the July shooting at the Power Ultra Lounge in Little Rock, which left 28 people injured and led to the creation of a joint task force focused on gangs and violent crime.

A statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Little Rock said that shooting was precipitated by the rivalry between Real Hustlers Incorporated, a gang formerly known as the Monroe Street Hustlers, and the Wolfe Street Crips, a gang in Little Rock.

Among the 49 charged individuals is Bilal Johns Muhammad, a longtime leader of Real Hustlers, the release says. He is also the half brother of former Razorback and NFL running back Darren McFadden.

Two of Muhammad's sons, identified as Bilal Sean Muhammad and Kain Jordan, were also listed among the 49 defendants, according to the release.

Also indicted is Clifton Thomas, who is identified as a founder of Real Hustlers Incorporated. Thomas was shot six times outside a Little Rock home last summer.

Little Rock saw a violent year in 2017, recording the highest number of homicides in at least a decade. Little Rock police data show that the number of nonfatal shooting victims in the city has increased every year since 2014.

Last year, there were 203 nonfatal shooting victims in Little Rock -- a more than 35 percent increase from the 150 victims logged in 2016, according to local police data. The figure accounted for only the number of shooting victims related to first-degree battery.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, violent crime overall in Little Rock increased about 5.52 percent from 2016 to 2017, including a rise in burglaries, rapes and homicides.

Chris Givens, an assistant U.S. attorney, said 14 defendants were arrested last week in connection with the indictment of Robert Carroll Turpin III. According to the U.S. attorney's office, Turpin headed a drug-trafficking organization, and an investigation revealed that he was distributing methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

Turpin, according to the release, was also distributing thousands of oxycodone and alprazolam pills in central Arkansas.

"Turpin was found to be importing pharmaceutical drugs from India for illicit distribution, and during the course of the conspiracy more than 150,000 pills were obtained and distributed," according to the release.

At the news conference Thursday, law enforcement officials praised the collaborative nature of the task force, known as the GET Rock task force. The abbreviation stands for Gang Enforcement Team.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who announced the task force after the July nightclub shooting, said Thursday's operation showed how cooperation, "intelligence information" and "courageous law enforcement work" can make streets safer.

"I commend the stellar work of all of those involved in this morning's efforts, and I know this is just the beginning -- there's plenty of work left to do," he said in the release.

It was a statement shared by others.

"If you're a criminal, a violent criminal in central Arkansas, we're coming for you," said Maj. Carl Minden with the Pulaski County sheriff's office.

Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley said the operation echoed the government's response to the gang wars of the 1990s, when Little Rock violence gained national attention after the release of the 1994 HBO documentary Gang War: Bangin' In Little Rock.

"We remember when things were really dark in our community," he said. "And if it's dark in Little Rock, it's dark in Faulkner County, it's dark in Saline County, it's dark in Lonoke County, too. We are not defined by our county lines or by the river or anything else. We're all in it together."

According to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office, Bilal Johns Muhammad was identified as a longtime leader of Real Hustlers Incorporated, which changed its name from the Monroe Street Hustlers "due to mounting and unwanted attention from" Little Rock police.

The release says police have identified various Real Hustlers members "as having participated in the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, and in subsequent retaliatory shootings involving Dewquan Johns, James Langford, Rodney Scott, Damien Young, and Edmond Blue," among several others.

Court documents related to the Power Ultra Lounge shooting reveal that witnesses heard an argument and people yelling "Crip" and "Bloods" before the gunfire broke out. An affidavit shows that one shooting witness told police that she heard "someone yell something about 'Monroe' street gang affiliation" just before the shooting began.

According to a confidential law enforcement bulletin obtained last year by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, there was a planned "welcome home party" for Bilal Johns Muhammad at the Power Ultra Lounge on April 7, 2017, months before the July 1 shooting.

The Little Rock Police Department bulletin identified Muhammad as a leader of the "Monroe Street Hustlas and Real Hustlerz Inc."

The document said Muhammad had been released from the Arkansas Department of Correction and noted that the welcome-home party would attract "a large number of gang members."

"Extra patrol should be given in the area due to the recent gang-related shootings," the bulletin read.

Hiland declined to specify how members of Real Hustler Incorporated, a local Bloods-affiliate, participated in the Power Ultra Lounge shooting.

The release from his office states that the gang "utilizes" the house at 5108 W. 31st St. in Little Rock as a music studio, but also as a place to distribute oxycodone, marijuana, cocaine and heroin, among other controlled substances.

In addition to Thomas, the statement identified Marvin Collins as a founder of the Real Huslters Incorporated.

Members of the Monroe Steet Hustlers have been tied to several shootings in Little Rock, including the death of 2-year-old Ramiya Reed, who was fatally shot in November of 2016, while riding in the back seat of a vehicle with her mother.

Court documents and the case file on the toddler's death revealed that she was an innocent victim in a dispute between members the Monroe Street Hustlers and the Murder Mafia Gang.

Among the defendants identified Thursday is Chris Alexander, who was charged with multiple counts. Alexander's 14-year-old son, Cyncere Alexander, was fatally shot at a west Little Rock apartment complex last year, police said.

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Metro on 02/23/2018

Print Headline: 21 people arrested in LR gangs dragnet

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Archived Comments

  • tenpoint
    February 23, 2018 at 10:35 a.m.

    that is why God said spare the rod and spoil the child.we as adults are not taking care of the things we should do to kids when we are supposed to be teaching them GODS way. we as adults should have our children in a good church that preaches the bible. we have preachers that don't preach on sin.

  • HarleyOwner
    February 23, 2018 at 11:31 a.m.

    Looks like the swamp is finally getting drained.

  • mrcharles
    February 23, 2018 at 12:16 p.m.

    Well I am just glad being a mulsim commie, [they say that cant work out but I made it compatible by following the christians, I can pick and choose what I want to ignore if they are inconvenient to my ideas] that these innocent till guilty ILKS arent muslim white or commies as you dont seem to many charges here in arkansas except all those white perverts with children.... but that is different the right doesnt care if they get slaughtered as long as their guns are kept, so molestation in their eyes seems not quite as severe to them.

    Gen Custer did you ever salute a superior rank black person? Did it belittle your racist beliefs and make you angry at these creations of the creator, since you are not a non believer in sky fairies..
    '
    Gen Custer is right on them there percentages. You know numbers are like magic so we must listen to them. For example if a woman is raped, whether it is by 6 or 9 guys we say well that is just a case of gang rape, but to her the numbers really dont make a difference cause what counts is each instance stands on its own.

    I can submit for consideration that Darren apparently was lucky enough to get paid zillions of dollars, to hopefully avoid being involved here. Oh, zeus please let that be.

    I am pleased to announce that it appears no russians were involved in this crime family like other more famous ilks are ..

    1+1+1= 1point, an you inform us about a good bible teaching church.. Would that be protestant bibles or catholic bibles,or one of the other true bibles. I will point out in everyones defense here who let their light shine out as to what they are, no one brought up stoning to death unruly children to death.... Like your black hero Bill Cosby once said to his son , I can kill you and I can make another one just like you.

    If feds are involved [ golly do we cuss these guys or applaud them since the right now hates law enforcement] , they should get prison to serve full terms. It is true that thugs with guns are deserving of harsh penalties, just hope the mere fact they had guns as their right to have them is not used against them because they support the 2nd amendment.

  • Illinoisroy
    February 23, 2018 at 12:21 p.m.

    There is a simple solution to the gang/drug problems within our society, i.e., legalize drugs. If we reduce the profit margin in manufacturing/distribution of drugs and treat as any other business the gang's business will dry up. We could increase revenues through taxes and reduce expenses for law enforcement/prisons. Additionally, this would meet with the Republican objective of less government, more economic development and freedom to pursue liberty.

    I am disappointed that this has to turn to a racial issue again as evidenced by the ebonics and racism if higher percent of incarcerated blacks vs. population comments. The civil war is over, the south lost, all people are equal or at least that is what we tried to do with President Johnson's Civil Rights Act. Happy Black History month to all the haters.

    I would like to apologize to GeneralMac for my stooping to name calling to express my dissatisfaction with his posts. It wasn't civil. I would also like to advise GeneralMac that I am sorry that his life experience has turned him into a bitter angry person and hope he can achieve some compassion and empathy for his fellow citizens.

    WWJD?

  • dbeuer
    February 23, 2018 at 12:52 p.m.

    Why is it relevant for you to report that those arrested are related to an ex-Hog? Did he do anything? Why should his name be included in your story?

  • 3WorldState1
    February 23, 2018 at 2:04 p.m.

    Roy, good point.
    Don't worry about GenMac, he says really stupid stuff all the time. Like super stupid. He doesn't even try to be reasonable. We've all just given up. So many wackos on here.
    Ten point. The black community is the most religious of all races in the US. Religion has nothing to do with any of this. Just like it doesn't have anything to do with all the white Christians molesting and raping children. Everything goes back to socio economic conditions and education.

  • Sjackson124yahoocom
    February 23, 2018 at 2:22 p.m.

    You all claim you all know everything since it’s about proper English go to hell each one of you. Everyone knows the police lie the news lie it’s not a damn secret and Murphy01 your ass casting doubt and yeah what about all the white thugs GeneralMac oh I guess they are to busy plotting on the next school shooting all you racist bastards can kiss ass now talk on that

  • GeneralMac
    February 23, 2018 at 2:25 p.m.

    Why did I bring up race?

    Because many Black activists and white bleeding heart liberal state that the percentage of Blacks incarcerated vs the percentage of the over all population in the US is proof of racism.

    Maybe EVERY DAY reading of violent Black thugs is the REASON their prison population % is higher than their % of the US population.

    Must we release them so the Black population in prison doesn't rise and we get labeled " racist "?

    By the way mrcharles..............you seriously need your psychiatrist grand daughter to examine you.

    Either you are crazy, senile, or both.

  • MaxCady
    February 23, 2018 at 2:46 p.m.

    Hey, Shonda, where we supposed to go now that the Power Ultra Lounge is shut down??!!

  • Murphy01
    February 23, 2018 at 2:49 p.m.

    Shonda, where did "my ass cast doubt"? YOU, said the "story" was full of lies and that the news and police lie. All I asked was that you enlighten the rest us who are apparently in the dark here. What lies are the media and police telling us specifically? Your two posts claim the media and police are lying. About what specifically? Just answer the question.

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