- Associated Press - Thursday, January 18, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A dozen Tennessee gang members and associates were charged with a racketeering conspiracy involving murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking, U.S. Attorney Donald Cochran announced Thursday.

Cochran said the unsealed, 54-count superseding indictment targets 12 people associated with the Mongols Motorcycle Gang chapter in Clarksville. Another man faces charges of large-scale drug trafficking, while two more face federal robbery charges.

The group engaged in murder, attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, witness tampering, money laundering, interstate travel in aid of racketeering and large-scale drug trafficking, Cochran said.

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“The indictment and enforcement action that we are announcing today, dismantling a criminal organization alleged to have engaged in numerous acts of violence and significant drug trafficking, is just the first of such efforts that will be coming,” said Cochran, who took office after the U.S. Senate confirmed him in September.

Cochran said some of the alleged crimes include: kidnapping two people at gunpoint in May 2015, bringing them to a cemetery and shooting and killing one; setting the Sin City Motorcycle Clubhouse in Clarksville on fire in May 2015; and traveling to California multiple times to bring back at least 50 pounds of methamphetamine to distribute in Tennessee and Kentucky. They also trafficked in oxymorphone, the indictment states.

The release said law enforcement officers began arresting those charged Thursday and they all are in custody except one. Stephen Cole, a.k.a. “Lurch,” of Clarksville remains at large and his whereabouts are unknown.

All defendants face up to life in prison except two, who face up to 20 years. Most are from Clarksville or nearby towns.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the indictment is the next step in efforts to dismantle gangs and stop the spread of deadly drugs and violent crime.

“Gangs that conspire to spread illegal drugs like methamphetamine and lethal opioids, extort legitimate businesses, and wage violence on our fellow Americans will be held accountable by the Department of Justice,” Sessions said in a news release.

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