A violent drug-trafficking collective known as the Dixie Homes Murda Gang has become one of local law enforcement's latest targets.
Following a 10-month investigation, a gang injunction was issued against the group, prohibiting them from publicly congregating within an established "safety zone" north of the city's Medical District. The area is bound by Jackson, I-240, Poplar, and North Danny Thomas. Encompassing less than a square mile, the zone has been identified by law enforcement as the primary boundary in which the gang operates.
A press conference was held last week in front of Byrd's Grill, a known meeting location for the gang, to announce the injunction.
Fred Winston, operations commander for the West Tennessee Multi-Agency Gang Unit, said the high volume of gang-related crimes occurring north of the Medical District motivated them to request an injunction.
"We looked at the types of crime being committed in the area [and] the number of police calls for service in the area," Winston said. "We looked at arrest tickets and other data to see who's committing these crimes and what are there commonalities."
Approximately 45 members of Dixie Homes Murda Gang have been identified by law enforcement as having previously engaged in gang activity in what is now the designated safety zone. The injunction forbids members of the gang, which is primarily composed of 47 Neighborhood Crips, from publicly associating together, intimidating or assaulting witnesses to gang activity, possessing guns, distributing narcotics, trespassing on private property, or preventing members from leaving the gang.
If a member is deemed to have violated the injunction's terms, they can be fined and receive community service or jail time. However, a gang member may opt out of the injunction by declaring in writing that they are no longer a member of the gang and do not endorse the gang lifestyle.
For those concerned that the gang injunction will abuse the constitutional rights of people who aren't gang-affiliated but reside in the area, law enforcement assures the court order is solely based around gang-related criminal activity.
"If officers are driving down Decatur Street and they see somebody standing out on the corner wearing dark blue and light blue colors, unless that person is one of the named individuals in our injunction, they can stand on the corner," said District Attorney General Amy Weirich. "It's just the named individuals who can't. Nine times out of 10, the officer is going to know [if] the person has previously admitted their membership in the gang."
Locally, gang activity has increased over recent years. To date, there are 9,100 documented gang members and 170 documented gangs and subsets in the area, according to the Tennessee Gang Investigators Association (TNGIA). This number does not take into account undocumented members, which authorities say could double that figure.
In September 2013, the city's first-ever gang injunction was issued against the Riverside Rollin' 90's Crips in South Memphis. A safety zone was established against the gang in a 4.6-mile radius bordered by South Parkway, West Mallory, I-55, and Florida. Since enforcing the gang injunction, violent crime in the zone has been reduced by 52 percent, according to Multi-Agency Gang Unit data.
Ed Stanton, U.S. Attorney for West Tennessee, said the community can expect more criminal actions to be filed against gang members in the future.
"We'll use every resource at our disposal," Stanton said. "We don't want to be just reactionary, kind of showing up after the fact but really build high-level investigations to dismantle these gangs. And we're starting with the highest-ranking individuals."