Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gang with ties to Pinellas, Hillsborough counties accused of nine murders

In September 2010, investigators say, the gang members drove alongside a duplex in Bradenton and fired round after round through a bedroom window. The man inside, who was 18, died in front of his girlfriend and 1-year-old daughter.

The next month, three of the gang members kidnapped a 16-year-old boy and used him to lure one of their enemies to his death. To keep the teen from talking, they executed him.

In summer 2013, two of the gang members appeared at a Bradenton youth football practice attended by hundreds of people and approached a man holding his 5-year-old child. When the first bullet hit him, he put his kid down and fled. More rounds followed. He died at a place known as the 13th Avenue Dream Center.

Those brazen attacks were among a total of nine murders over the past seven years that authorities attribute to the crew, an unprecedented streak of calculated violence for organized crime in this region.

Federal and local officials announced the indictment of six gang members Thursday afternoon at a news conference in Manatee County, where the group was based.

At least two of the men charged, and at least one among the nine homicide victims, have connections to Pinellas or Hillsborough counties.

Dating back to 2004, Corey Deonta Harris, 23, has been arrested in Pinellas seven times. A registered sex offender, he listed St. Petersburg as his home in January. Federal prosecutors have charged him in connection with the Dream Center murder, with drug distribution and under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Jerry W. Green, 27, listed Gibsonton as his home after leaving prison in 2012. Along with racketeering and drug distribution, he has been charged in connection with five murders and armed robbery.

In addition, St. Petersburg police on Thursday night confirmed they are investigating the death of Joshua R. Smith, 24, a Palmetto man tied to the group who was found shot to death a few blocks from Lake Maggiore in April.

The investigation into the gang, which is ongoing, was led by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Both Harris and Green, along with the other four men charged — Nathaniel Harris, 23; Napoleon Harris, 29; Charlie L. Green, 27; and Deonte Jamal Martin, 24 — could face life imprisonment or execution if convicted.

With three already in custody, the others were arrested Thursday.

"In my time personally, I can't remember that many homicides attributed to a group of people like that," said Bruce Bartlett, a retired chief assistant state attorney who prosecuted cases in Pinellas and Pasco counties for 35 years. "That's something you would expect to see out of one of our larger metro areas like Chicago or New York."

Investigators' description of Demetrious Cunningham's murder, perhaps better than any other, illustrates the gang's ruthlessness.

Cunningham, who had family in Tampa, had a long and violent criminal past that included four drug-related arrests. Investigators say he was the intended target in the drive-by shooting death of Joseph Evans, the man killed in front of his girlfriend and daughter.

Determined to fulfill the contract on Cunningham's life, the gang members kidnapped 16-year-old Calvin Barnes, who convinced their mark to meet at an apartment.

Just 45 minutes after Cunningham's death, authorities found Barnes' body less than 4 miles away.

The killings, investigators say, were committed largely to protect the group's robust drug operation.

The men hired someone to sell "several pounds of marijuana daily" from a home they operated in Manatee County.

They distributed hefty amounts of other drugs as well: heroin, ecstasy, oxycodone, 280 grams of crack cocaine and five kilograms of cocaine.

They traveled as far away as Texas to buy their product and consigned it to people recently released from prison and desperate for income.

They made Internet videos and songs boasting of their operations.

They advertised with business cards.

Times staff writer Patty Ryan contributed to this report, which includes information from the Bradenton Herald. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at

The suspects

Jerry W. Green, 27, of Bradenton, indicted in connection with murder, conspiracy to murder and robbery.

Napoleon Harris, 29, of Bradenton, indicted in connection with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to murder and attempted murder.

Nathaniel Harris, 23, of Bradenton, indicted in connection with murder, attempted murder and kidnapping.

Deonte J. Martin, 24, of Bradenton, indicted in connection with murder and conspiracy to murder.

Corey D.

Harris, 23 of St. Petersburg, indicted in connection with murder.

Charlie L. Green, 27 of Bradenton, indicted in connection with murder, conspiracy to murder, robbery and kidnapping.

The victims

Christopher W. Jenkins, 25, shot in a Manatee County parking lot on April 8, 2007. His body was later dumped outside a hospital.

Rodney D. Lamb, 34, and Erika Williams, 20, both found shot to death inside a car in Sarasota County on Sept. 2, 2008.

Joseph Evans, 18, killed inside his Manatee County home Sept. 4, 2010, in a case of mistaken identity.

Demetrius Cunningham, 23, killed outside a Bradenton apartment complex on Oct. 26, 2010.

Calvin Barnes, 16, kidnapped and executed in Bradenton on Oct. 26, 2010.

Carlos Jurado, 29, shot and killed as he walked through a Manatee County apartment complex on April 1, 2013.

Ceola lazier iii, 31, shot in his car in Manatee County on July 3, 2013.

Brenton Coleman, 39, ran from shooters while holding his 5-year-old child. He was gunned down in front of hundreds at a Bradenton football practice on Aug. 1, 2013.

Gang with ties to Pinellas, Hillsborough counties accused of nine murders 06/05/14 [Last modified: Friday, June 6, 2014 12:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What you need to know for Thursday, June 29


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    See that thing in the water? No? That's the point. It's that time of the year when stingrays are often lurking in the sand, often not visibly. Remember to do the stingray shuffle if you're out at the beach this weekend. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  2. Pinellas beaches seeing fewer injuries from stingrays, but the summer is still young


    FORT DE SOTO — Rebecca Glidden leaned back in her lifeguard chair, watching behind sunglasses as families splashed in the water at Fort De Soto's North Beach.

    A Clearwater water safety supervisor demonstrates the stingray shuffle. Pinellas beaches are reporting relatively few injuries from stingrays so far this year, but they anticipate more as the summer wears on. Officials are reminding beachgoers to do the shuffle when they enter the water and keep an eye out for purple flags flying from the lifeguard towers, which indicate stingray activity. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  3. Weeki Wachee River advocates agree to work to resolve issues

    Local Government

    WEEKI WACHEE — Degradation of the Weeki Wachee River is a complex mix of circumstances, with a variety of jurisdictions holding the authority to fix the problems. That has made finding solutions over the years more about frustration than success.

    A boat and kayak drift into one another as they share the narrow passage near Rogers Park on the Weeki Wachee River in March. Advocates fear too many vessels are damaging the river.
  4. Despite change in Cuba policy, cruise ships sail on


    TAMPA -- It's smooth sailing for cruises from Tampa to Havana, with the first of Carnival Cruise Line's 12 such excursions launching today, two months after Royal Caribbean's initial voyage from Port Tampa Bay to the island.

    The Empress of the Seas cruise ship docks at the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 in Tampa. President Donald 

Trump's new Cuba policy may not hurt cruises to Havana at all. In fact, it may help these cruises. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  5. Lien forgiveness program aimed at blighted properties in Zephyrhills

    Local Government

    ZEPHYRHILLS — The city will begin offering a new residential lien forgiveness program in an effort to encourage improvements to properties and home ownership.

    City Manager Steve Spina said it is geared to foreclosures and properties for sale.