LITTLE ROCK -- Nine defendants indicted as part of investigations by the FBI and DEA that resulted in the indictment of 80 individuals in six states appeared in court Tuesday for bond hearings that resulted in three being released and six ordered to jail to await trial.
The investigations focused on drug trafficking and gang violence, with the FBI's GETROCK Task Force looking into two rival Pine Bluff gangs: Every Body Killas -- referred to as EBK -- and the Lodi Murder Mobb, which authorities said have been responsible for much of the violence that has plagued central Arkansas. The DEA investigation found evidence that large quantities of methamphetamine and thousands of pressed fentanyl pills were being mailed into Arkansas from California for distribution in Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Texas.
Kenny "Kenny Loc" Thomas, 42, who has residences in Pine Bluff and in Huffman, Texas, was denied bond by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe after evidence presented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Fields indicated that Thomas operated at the top of the Lodi Murder Mobb hierarchy. Pine Bluff detective Richard McCorvey testified that wiretaps placed on Thomas' cell phone earlier this year intercepted calls related to drug trafficking in Arkansas and Texas, as well as conversations regarding several murders that happened in Arkansas earlier this year.
In his testimony, McCorvey described a pervasive cycle of violence and retaliation between the two gangs. He described a conversation intercepted between Thomas and another member, whom he identified as DMarrie Davis, regarding the murder of Tre'vion Nelson, an EBK gang member who was killed in Pine Bluff last April.
"He's a member of EBK, believed to be a shooter," McCorvey said of Nelson. He said Thomas called the killing of Nelson "a nice little lick," which he explained was Thomas saying, "basically ... it was a good kill."
McCorvey said Thomas told Davis, "'Hey, we back in action, one more will get us all the way back on top. Now we caught up, we caught up, you know what I'm saying?'"
McCorvey said that referenced a macabre scorecard in which the two gangs kept track of the killings, with the two gangs trying to stay one up on the other.
"They have this thing they call upping the score," McCorvey said. "They kind of keep track of who's been killed out of each gang."
Nelson, 21, was found shot to death April 14 at a residence in Pine Bluff. McCorvey said no one has been arrested in Nelson's murder, which he said was most likely gang-related.
"At that time did Kenny Thomas post on Facebook, f**k EBK?" asked Fields.
"Yes, he did," McCorvey answered.
McCorvey said the conversation indicated that the killing of Nelson was retaliation for the murders of two Lodi Murder Mobb gang members earlier in the year. On Jan. 28, Bradford Bankston, 20, was killed in Little Rock and on March 26, Terrence Brady, 32, was found shot to death in Pine Bluff.
"They were saying they had to catch up to that," McCorvey said.
The detective said Thomas was intercepted on the wiretap discussing Nelson's murder with another man, identified as Eugene Thompson, on the day Nelson was killed.
"He told Thompson they just sent one of the EBK boys to the upper room," McCorvey said, explaining that the term was a euphemism for a killing. "He said you didn't hear anything but switches and Drakes."
Switches, he said, referred to Glock switches that convert Glock pistols to automatic fire. "Drakes," McCorvey said, was a reference to Draco pistols that are chambered for rifle rounds. In a subsequent conversation, the detective said Thomas was heard describing the gang activities as a "war."
"He said, 'I can't handle a 24/7 war, I need a part-time war. I'm too old,'" McCorvey said. He said Thomas referred to himself as a "coach" to the younger members. He said Thomas often funneled money to younger members using Apple Pay or Cash App.
On Nov. 9, the day the GETROCK Task Force arrested 45 defendants, McCorvey said Thomas was arrested at a motel in Benton where he had traveled from his Texas residence that morning. Two days later, he said, while at the Pulaski County jail, Thomas attacked a fellow Lodi Murder Mobb gang member, Errick Racy, who is also a defendant in the case. He said Thomas suspected Ray of funneling money to EBK gang members.
Despite the efforts of Thomas' attorney, Mark Alan Jesse, to distance Thomas from the drugs and violence of the gang, Volpe ordered him to remain in jail.
Volpe also ordered five other defendants to remain in jail to await trial. They included EBK associates Mario Nickson, 50, of Tunica; Broderick "Money" Chunn, 40, Little Rock; Kajarvis "Flute" O'Neal, 31, of Helena-West Helena; and Darius "Lil D" Furlow, 27, of Blytheville. Lodi Murder Mobb associate Cavin "Kelbo" Johnson was also remanded to federal custody.
Volpe released Lodi Murder Mobb associate Kevin Ginger, 45, of Pine Bluff; EBK associate Michael Williams, 36, of North Little Rock; and Ricky Manning, 31, of Pine Bluff. Manning was one of 18 people indicted as part of the DEA investigation into methamphetamine and fentanyl transports from California to Arkansas.