Plant City Migrants were target of gang, authorities say

By MIKE BRASSFIELD, Times Staff Writer
Published December 15, 2007

Authorities said Friday they're bringing racketeering charges against 10 members of a street gang that has been preying on Hispanic residents on Plant City's west side.

"What makes it particularly galling is this gang targeted the weakest among us - migrant workers who might not want to put their money in a bank" or report attacks to police, said Thomas Smith, assistant statewide prosecutor out of Tampa.

Local and state law enforcement officials are charging 10 people, ranging in age from 16 to 20, who police say belong to a gang called "the Black MOB."

Plant City police Chief Bill McDaniel said they're repeat offenders who have collectively been charged with 108 felonies and 69 misdemeanors, including drug dealing and robberies. But racketeering charges could bring stiffer prison sentences, he said.

Ellis Edward Bell Jr., 20; Vintawn Lee Brooks, 17; Sylvester Dunson Jr., 17; Preston Leon George, 19; Nathaniel George Jr., 20; Kenneth M. McDonald, 17; Ervin Curtis Murray Jr., 17; and Rodney Ricardo Young, 17, are charged with racketeering and conspiracy to engage in racketeering, and face up to 60 years in prison, officials said.

Christopher M. Davis, 18; and Craig Kashawn Carter, 16, are charged with conspiracy to engage in racketeering, and face up to 30 years.

Mike Brassfield, Times staff writer