When 16-year-old Adarius Fowler was killed in a drive-by shooting on North Tarboro Street a week before Thanksgiving in 2008, residents pleaded with police, city leaders and each other to bring peace to their neighborhood.
The city responded with more aggressive policing and new mentoring and after-school programs for teenagers, to try to stem a rise in violence that many linked to street gangs. A year later, then-police chief Harry Dolan claimed some success, citing a nearly 50 percent drop in gang-related crime in Southeast Raleigh.
And yet Fowler’s killing remained unsolved.
Now federal prosecutors say Fowler was shot by members of a rival gang that sold drugs, committed robberies and used violence to spread fear in the neighborhood east of downtown. In an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Jan. 20 and unsealed last month, local and federal authorities charged 10 members of the “Black Mob Gangstas/Donald Gee Family,” described by investigators as a Bloods street gang, with a host of crimes, including murder, drug trafficking, witness tampering, extortion and racketeering.
In addition to Fowler, the gang’s members are accused of killing another rival gang member, Rodriguez D. Shay Burrell, as he stood on his father’s porch on Haywood Street in May 2009, because he refused to pay money to the gang.
The indictments describe a gang with a strict hierarchy and rules to preserve and protect its power, reputation, profits and territory, which was centered on Haywood Street, five blocks east of Moore Square. The indictment traces the history of the gang to the early 2000s when the Black Mob Gangstas formed with Demetrice Regus Devine, 34, as its leader. In 2013, the organization became part of the Donald Gee Family and functioned as a set of the Bloods gang, with Demetrice Devine and his cousin, Dontaous Demond Devine, 28, as the primary leaders, according to Don Connelly, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Both held leadership positions,” Connelly said. “Demetrice was always the primary leader.”
Federal investigators say the Devines and other unnamed leaders managed and promoted the criminal enterprise and directed lower-ranking members to commit acts of violence, “including murder, attempted murder and assaults in order to be promoted within the leadership structure of the gang.”
Federal investigators say Demetrice Devine, also known as “Respect,” lectured the gang about the importance of making money by selling drugs and committing robberies on its behalf. Devine also required members to pay weekly dues, a portion of which went to a “community rent box,” that could be used to make loans, buy drugs, maintain houses to sell drugs, purchase firearms and as gifts to high-ranking gang leaders who were in jail. Another portion of the criminal proceeds was sent up the chain of command to the gang’s leadership. The gang members were allowed to earn their gang dues through various means, including drug dealing, fraud schemes and robbery, according to the indictment.
Demetrice Devine also stressed to gang members the importance of keeping track of their guns because the weapons served as protection during drug sales and against rival gang members.
The gang demanded dues from nonmembers who sold drugs in its territory. Those who didn’t pay risked being robbed, assaulted or murdered, according to the indictment. The indictment says that when Burrell refused to pay money to the gang, Dontaous Devine, Demetrius Deshaun Toney, 24, and Brandon Jowan Mangum, 28, “agreed” to shoot him.
In March 2015, Demetrice Devine wound up in jail, where investigators say he possessed gang literature in his cell, including information about the gang’s hierarchy. Investigators say another man accused in the indictment, Cleveland McNair, 33, was holding gang meetings at his home and selling a significant amount of cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana, but Demetrice Devine was still running the gang from behind bars. He provided financial support for the gang’s drug distribution, and his conversations with subordinates included instructions on how to deal with a gang member who was to be punished, adjustments to the gang’s rank structure and the paying of dues to the community rent box, according to the indictment.
In fall 2015, Dontaous Devine told his cousin Demetrice Devine that two women, Brenda Joyce Brown, 32, and Katherine Victoria Gast, 25, had both been subpoenaed to testify at a federal hearing that involved the jailed leader. He reportedly told Gast, “You already know how to play it. I don’t need to say anything; you already know,” according to the indictment.
The 10 members named in the indictment are charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as the RICO Act, or RICO. The federal law, passed in 1970, provides extended penalties for crimes committed as part of an ongoing criminal organization and allows prosecutors to charge the leaders of criminal organizations with crimes they ordered others to do.
The 10 who were indicted are:
▪ Demetrice Regus Devine, who is also known as “Respect,” 34
▪ Dontaous Demond Devine, also known as “Scooch” and “Boochie,” 28
▪ Demetrius Deshaun Toney, also known as “Meat,” 24
▪ Brandon Jowan Mangum, also known as “B-Easy,” 28
▪ Jamario Keon Jones, also known as “Spect Junior” and “Skeeno,” 24
▪ Cleveland McNair, also known as “Blee,” 33
▪ Christopher Darnell Evans, also known as “Racks” and “Snacks,” 27
▪ Brenda Joyce Brown, also known as “Lady Banga,” 32
▪ Katherine Victoria Gast, also known as “Kat Snacks,” 25
▪ Shaiona Marie Smith, also known as “Slyfox,” 22
They have all been arrested and are in custody, federal authorities reported.