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Proof That Nailing Violent Gang Members Is Key To Reducing Homicides

Proof That Nailing Violent Gang Members Is Key To Reducing Homicides

Photo credit: Moodboard / GettyImages

The Bounty Hunter Bloods is still an active gang operating primarily in northwest Detroit, but since law enforcement took out its leadership, police aren’t aware of any new murders.

“I keep close tabs on the Bounty Hunter Bloods and other gangs,” said ATF Special Agent Joe Nether. “We know that this gang killed at least 11 people in the years leading up to our busts, but since we took down their leadership, they haven’t murdered anyone we know of. Getting the gang leaders who are doing or telling their soldiers to do violent crimes is central to stopping the carnage.”

Many politicians concentrate on guns, not the bad guys. Agent Nether says we need to do what we can to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but getting the violent members of a street gang is key to stopping the murders and other crimes.

“Getting the gang leaders who are doing or telling their soldiers to do violent crimes is central to stopping the carnage.” —ATF Agent Joe Nether“I’ve listened in on prison calls between gang members we’ve put away and members who are still in the community,” Nether said. “I remember one telling an active gang member that he regrets following orders and doing armed robberies and BEs [breaking and entering]. He said he never would have done that stuff if he wasn’t pressured to do so. He said a lot of good kids, from good homes, were doing these crimes because they were ordered to do so by gang leadership.”

It isn’t difficult for gangs to get guns, whether they steal them or buy them on a black market. As Nether said, “A quality pistol, like a Glock, might go for double or triple retail. Lower-quality guns might be worth only $100 or $200 more than retail. Mostly, criminals use low-end guns. Thefts had given the Bounty Hunter Bloods all types of gun. They had .38 revolvers, .22 pistols, AK-47-type rifles and so much more.”

Investigations into Detroit’s Bounty Hunter Bloods would later recover more than 30 guns and result in many convictions. But if they’d only taken those 30 or so guns—and not the people instigating the violence—then the murders and armed robberies would still be taking place with other guns.

“By taking down the gang’s leadership, we saw the crimes and murders they were doing plummet,” said Agent Nether.

Another often-overlooked ATF statistic adds to this analysis. The data shows that gun stores largely aren’t providing gangs with guns, as the average gun that ends up in the hands of the police was originally sold more than 10 years before. To track this aspect of crime guns, the ATF maintains a statistic it calls “time-to-crime.” This is the amount of time between when a gun was sold by a federally licensed gun dealer (FFL) and when it was found at a crime scene or otherwise confiscated by authorities. Nationally, the ATF says the time-to-crime for the average gun in 2015 was 10.48 years. So, on average, the guns used in crimes aren’t being bought one day from a store and used the next in a crime.

“It would help if law-abiding gun owners would lock up their guns when they are not at home,” Nether said. “Also, many people who have their guns stolen don’t report the thefts. And when they do, many gun owners don’t know the make, model and serial numbers of their guns. It would help in our investigations if people would keep these records.”Nationally, the ATF says the time-to-crime for the average gun in 2015 was 10.48 years.

In addition to locking up the Bounty Hunter Bloods’ 27-year-old former leader Ramiah Jefferson, aka “Nightmare,” for 30 years, the following Bounty Hunter Bloods members were convicted and sentenced:

  • Evan Johnson, aka “Unkle Murda,” 24, of Detroit—convicted of RICO conspiracy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment;
  • Alexander Deshawn George, aka “Bullet,” 20, of Detroit—convicted of RICO conspiracy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment;
  • David Lamar Gay, aka “Glock,” 22, of Toledo, Ohio—convicted of murder in aid of racketeering and sentenced to 17.5 years' imprisonment;
  • Drakkar Beral Cunningham, aka “Rellz,” 25, of Detroit—convicted of RICO conspiracy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment;
  • Everette Ramon George, aka “Klout,” 21, of Detroit—convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and sentenced to four years, nine months’ imprisonment;
  • Mario Garnes, aka “Bloodhound,” 28, of Detroit—convicted of RICO conspiracy and sentenced to 42 months’ imprisonment;
  • Gerald Deshawn Turner, aka “G-Red,” 25, of Detroit—convicted of RICO conspiracy and sentenced to time served and three years of supervised release;
  • Marcus Andre Harvey, aka “Ceasar,” 23, of Detroit—convicted of RICO conspiracy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and yet to be sentenced.


These convictions stem from the Detroit One initiative, a combined effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime in Detroit. By working collaboratively, local, state and federal law enforcement identify and arrest individuals and groups initiating violence. By concentrating on the bad guys—not necessarily the citizens’ guns—this initiative has had remarkable success.