Authorities in Manatee County say they have arrested six people in a wide-ranging investigation involving murder, kidnapping, robbery and drug trafficking.
They say the six suspects were part of a drug and weapons operation responsible for nine murders and a rash of other crimes dating back to 2007, one of the worst years for homicides in Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said.
The indictment says Nathaniel Harris, Napoleon Harris and Charlie L. Green were leaders of the gang. It says Jerry Green, Corey Harris and Deonte Martin were members.
"You have certain people doing certain things for the organization and have certain responsibilities," Sheriff Steube explained.
The report says the group maintained a network of cars, apartments and houses for drugs and weapons, and describes how members attained status by "participation in violent acts and number of murders they had committed."
LINK: Read the federal indictment
Among those murders is a shooting death that happened in front of a crowded youth football practice last year.
Brenton Coleman Sr. was gunned down in the parking lot of the 13th Avenue Dream Center in Bradenton in August of 2013. Police said two masked gunmen approached Coleman and opened fire.
A Manatee Mustangs youth football practice was underway nearby, and the crowds went running when they heard the gunshots.Police said at the time that Coleman had been targeted.
A 78-page federal indictment released Thursday said Coleman's murder was among those the crime ring is responsible for, but did not offer any other details about any possible connection Coleman had to the suspects.
Nine murders are now being investigated.
In addition to Coleman, investigators say eight other murders are connected to the suspects. They are:
The investigation continues and other arrests are possible.
Investigators set up a confidential tip line where anyone can provide information on other homicides, robberies or drug offenses those arrested may have committed. That number is 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477).
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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