ATLANTA (AP) — Nearly two dozen members of the Ghostface Gangsters prison gang, including some key leaders, have been arrested on federal charges after a lengthy investigation into the often gruesome crimes committed on behalf of the gang, federal prosecutors say.
A federal grand jury returned a 21-count indictment on Feb. 8, and a judge on Tuesday ordered it unsealed. The U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta said 23 people — alleged gang members and their associates — had been arrested, including 20 already in custody on state and local charges.
Federal prosecutors say the gang has spread through Georgia’s jails and prisons and beyond since it originated in the Cobb County jail, just outside Atlanta, in 2000.
U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said those who are convicted will be removed to federal facilities across the country.
“The Ghostface Gangsters gang is very violent and their members will not hesitate to shoot at anyone,” Pak said in a news release. “Members have allegedly committed drug trafficking crimes inside and outside of prisons to make money, while committing violent crimes against each other, innocent citizens, and police officers.”
The indictment details the gang’s structure, inner workings and symbols:
It says the gang was founded by seven original members, known as the “pillars,” three of whom are charged in the indictment: 35-year-old Jeffrey Alan Bourassa, also known as J.B., Babyface and Kid; 40-year-old David Gene Powell, also known as Davo; and 39-year-old Joseph M. Propps Jr., also known as J.P.
A female gang leader is known as a “first lady,” and four of them are charged as well: 35-year-old Genevieve Waits, 26-year-old Kayli Brewer, 26-year-old Samantha Miller and 27-year-old Hailey Danielle Sizemore.
It was not immediately clear whether any of those charged have lawyers who could comment on the allegations.
The gang is has a defined structure, with statewide positions of authority and members achieving different ranks and responsibilities.
New members are recruited within and outside the prison system and must memorize gang literature and recite gang oaths on demand. In a pre-initiation ritual known as “3 for 76,” three members physically beat a prospective member for 76 seconds. Newly initiated members are assigned a unique identifying number by the gang’s statewide bookkeeper.
Gang members wear green and frequently use the color in social media posts and communications. The number seven is also significant — there were seven founders, “G” is the seventh letter of the alphabet and the gang uses a seven-pointed star as an identifying symbol. The gang’s “seven words of faith,” which members are expected to recite, are: “I am fully prepared for all consequences.”
Members use “767” — corresponding to the letters “GFG” in the alphabet — in communications and use “76.7” to indicate a member who was brought into the gang by one of the pillars.
They frequently have tattoos of the gang’s symbols and use codes to communicate and to evade law enforcement.
Members are expected to remain in the gang once they leave prison and to continue to commit criminal acts for the gang. Members inside prison have used contraband cellphones to communicate with others both inside and outside of prison and to carry out illegal activity.
The indictment alleges that members of the gang have committed violent crimes against Georgia citizens and have also shot at law enforcement officers. Some of the most brutal crimes, however, have been committed against fellow gang members when they’re perceived to have violated gang rules, including: badly beating a member and trying to pull out his teeth with pliers, and holding another member at gunpoint while cutting out his tattoo with a knife.
Nine of the people named in the indictment face charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering to benefit the gang by plotting to commit murders, kidnappings, witness tampering, drug trafficking, wire fraud, gun violations and other crimes. Thirteen are accused of participating in a drug conspiracy that involved possessing and distributing methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and illegal pills. Some also are charged with separate violent crimes, including carjacking, attempted murders of law enforcement officers, kidnapping, assault and maiming.
The investigation and arrests involved cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.