Charlotte, North Carolina - Four North Carolina members of the United Blood Nation (UBN or Bloods) street gang were sentenced in Charlotte, North Carolina, after pleading guilty to federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy charges, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray of the Western District of North Carolina.

Tyquan Ramont Powell, aka Savage, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, Lamonte Kentrell Lloyd, aka Murda Mo and Moo, 26, of Scotland Neck, North Carolina, Thomas Oliver, aka T.O., Recon, Rex, and Mr. Trippbadd, 34 of Gastonia, North Carolina were each sentenced by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Frank D. Whitney to serve 35 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Each of these defendants pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy charges involving murder.  Judge Whitney also sentenced Marquel Michael Cunningham, aka Mayhem, 23, of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, to 15 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release following his guilty plea to RICO conspiracy and his role in an attempted murder.

According to court documents and evidence presented at May 2018 and October 2019 trials of co-defendants, the UBN is a violent criminal street gang operating throughout the east coast of the United States since it was founded as a prison gang in 1993.  UBN members are often identified by their use of the color red, and can also often be identified by common tattoos or burn marks.  The UBN has a militaristic structure, with positions of Godfather, High, Low, Five-Star to One‑Star Generals and soldiers.  UBN members use distinct hand signs and written codes, which are used to identify other members and rival gang members, as well as to try to thwart law enforcement efforts against them.

Members of the UBN are expected to conduct themselves and their illegal activity according to rules and regulations set by their leaders.  Prominent among these is a requirement to pay monthly dues to the organization, often in the amounts of $31 or $93.  UBN gang dues are derived from illegal activity performed by subordinate UBN members including narcotics trafficking, robberies and wire fraud, among other forms of illegal racketeering activity.

According to court documents, Powell and Lloyd were members of the UBN and together committed two murders and three attempted murders in January and February of 2016.  Powell and Lloyd committed the first murder in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, by shooting into a car with three occupants because they believed one of the occupants was cooperating with law enforcement and intended to testify in a criminal case against a close associate of the defendants.  Bullets struck all three occupants and the intended target of the shooting was killed.  The defendants then fled to, among other places, Charlotte, North Carolina, where they received refuge and resources from UBN members and associates while attempting to evade arrest. 

Powell and Lloyd also committed murder in Gastonia, North Carolina, while attempting to rob four victims using handguns.  When the victims resisted the defendants’ robbery attempt, Powell fired his gun and killed one of the victims, who was attempting to flee to safety.  Powell and Lloyd also attempted to rob another victim in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Lloyd shot the victim in the back of the head, but the victim was effectively treated for his injuries at the hospital and lived.

According to court documents and evidence presented at an October 2019 trial of a co-defendant, Oliver drove himself and four other UBN members from Cleveland County, North Carolina, to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in order to rob an 18-year-old victim of marijuana and money.  Oliver coordinated the crimes as a local UBN leader, and was present when his fellow gang members shot and killed the robbery victim and attempted to kill the victim’s friend, who survived a gunshot wound to his arm.

Also according to court documents, Cunningham committed an armed robbery for the UBN, as well as an assault of a fellow UBN member for violating UBN gang rules.  Court documents and evidence presented at sentencing also showed that Cunningham was present in a car with UBN co‑conspirators in November 2014 when they saw a man who Cunningham believed to be a member of the rival gang called the Crips.  Cunningham pointed the man out to his fellow Bloods and flashed UBN gang hand signs.  Occupants of the car then opened fire on the victim, exited the car, and chased the victim while shooting approximately a dozen times.  No one was injured in the attempted murder.

In May 2017, 83 UBN gang members were indicted in the Western District of North Carolina for RICO conspiracy and other crimes.  In all, 82 defendants have been adjudicated guilty from the investigation.  A jury convicted three top leaders of the UBN of racketeering conspiracy in May 2018, one defendant was convicted of racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy at a bench trial in July 2019, and a jury convicted four defendants of racketeering conspiracy and other charges in October 2019.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office; the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department; the Shelby Police Department; the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office; the Gastonia Police Department; the North Carolina State Highway Patrol; the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office; the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice; North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles; Scotland Neck Police Department; the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation; the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office; the U.S. Federal Probation; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the IRS Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command; and the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Office of Special Investigations.  Trial Attorney Beth Lipman of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matt Warren and Christopher Hess for the Western District of North Carolina are prosecuting the case.

This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program.  OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.