Things to know:
- Channel 9 studied the backgrounds of 12 suspected gang members.
- Channel 9 discovered many of the suspects faced their first criminal charges as young as 16.
- The United Blood Nation is only one of the many gangs in Charlotte.
CHARLOTTE. N.C. -- Gangs in the Charlotte area have been linked to a slew of violent crimes.
Channel 9 has uncovered new information about a gang network’s reach and a specific group of gang members on the rise.
Channel 9 spent weeks studying the backgrounds of 12 suspected members of the United Blood Nation gang.
They were rounded up months after Doug and Debbie London were slain in their Lake Wylie home.
Federal investigators said Nana Adoma, Jamell Cureton and David Lee Fudge robbed the couple's mattress store in 2014, then Cureton orchestrated a plan from behind jail walls to kill the Londons to keep them from testifying.
Read our past coverage:
- FBI: Accused gang members may have watched reporter covering crimes
- Warrant: Suspect in Lake Wylie killings posted on Facebook
- Letters detail suspected gang member’s hit on Lake Wylie couple
- 2 suspected gang members accused of killing Lake Wylie couple appear in court
- Man accused of ordering Lake Wylie couple's killings pleads not guilty
- Officials: Accused gang member ordered killing of couple from jail
In Eyewitness News' research of court records, one thing stood out: Those suspects have lived all over the city.
Daquan Everett is accused of participating in meetings to plan the Londons' murders.
Timeline of events:
- Apr. 22, 2015: FBI raids Charlotte cell of United Blood Nation, arrests seven gang members on variety of charges. Four of those arrested are charged in Connection with murder of Londons.
- Jan. 30, 2015:Police said that Malcolm Jerrel Hartley, 22, and Brianna Johnson, 18, are arrested in connection with the double homicide investigation of the Londons.
- Dec. 2, 2014: Cureton and Adoma plead not guilty in the armed robbery case, officials said. David Fudge, who drove the getaway car, was sentenced to probation after his guilty plea earlier in the year.
- Oct. 30, 2014:Federal prosecutors take over the armed robbery case that accuses Jamell Cureton and Nana Adoma of robbing the Londons’ mattress store.
- Oct. 23, 2014: Doug and Debbie London are found shot to death in their Lake Wylie home.
- May 25, 2014:Two men rob the Wholesale Mattress Warehouse on South Boulevard owned by Doug and Debbie London. One of the robbers and Doug London exchange gun fire, police said.
Court records show four addresses for Everett over the past four years from North Charlotte to south of the city near Pineville.
Channel 9 showed our findings to Capt. Mike Harris, who leads the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Special Investigations Bureau, which tracks gangs across the city.
"Mobility has always been an issue for us," Harris said. "To move around from one side of the city to another, to commit a crime on the west side but live on the east side is not uncommon."
Channel 9 also discovered many of the suspects faced their first criminal charges as young as 16 but Harris says detectives investigate gang suspects even younger, some as young as 12 or 13.
Records from the state Department of Safety show the number of children in the justice system who claim gang affiliations in Mecklenburg County has climbed steadily over the past three years and now tops 10 percent.
Harris said young recruits often start out committing less aggressive crimes but escalate over time.
"As they get older, they're more tasked with the violent crime like robberies, drug-related narcotic sales, assault with a deadly weapon situations that we have, even human trafficking," he said.
Since 2010, Randall Avery Hankins, who's accused of helping plan the Londons' murders, has been charged more than a dozen times, including numerous drug and weapons charges.
Eyewitness News learned all those cases were dismissed.
Court records cite reasons like insufficient evidence but last year a gun charge was dropped because Hankins completed a firearms safety course.
Channel 9 found this post on his Facebook page in April about that dismissal.
"Hashtag clean record, 14 charges, 14 thrown out," he wrote.
Weeks later, federal authorities arrested Hankins in the Londons' case.
Officers said violent gang activity spans the entire Charlotte region.
"We've seen drug-related crimes, we've seen homicides, we've seen identity fraud," Gastonia police Capt. Ed Tura said.
Turas told Channel 9 that in 17 years of police work he has seen gangs evolving to use technology and social media to communicate, coordinate crimes and stay under police radar.
His officers and others said the arrests that make the news show just a fraction of their work.
"It's a danger dealing with people who are operating on (a) sophisticated level," Turas said.
Police want innocent, law-abiding citizens to know they're doing everything they can to keep gang members in check.
The United Blood Nation is only one of the many gangs in Charlotte.
In May, federal investigators arrested more than 30 suspected members of the MS-13 gang, accusing them of violent crimes like murder and armed robbery.
Jill Westmoreland Rose, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, spoke exclusively to Channel 9 about Charlotte's gang problem.
- PRESS PLAY: U.S. Attorney says ‘There is a gang problem in Charlotte’
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