In the underworld of Tennessee, Byron Montrail Purdy’s reign was unquestioned. He ruled the state as a governor. Not the political kind, mind you. His power went beyond the rule of law. As a governor in the Gangster Disciples, Purdy coordinated racketeering activity and gangland killings in his territory with fellow leaders around the country.
Founded in Chicago in the 1960s, the Gangster Disciples have grown into a highly organized national crime syndicate operating in more than 24 states. The group protects its power through threats, intimidation, and violence, including murder, assault, and obstruction of justice.
Members and associates of the gang are subject to a strict code of discipline and are routinely fined, beaten, and even murdered for failing to follow the rules. Taking a page out of the book written by Italian Mafia groups like Cosa Nostra and the Camorra, the Gangster Disciples also provide financial and other support to members doing time for gang-related offenses or those who are fugitives from law enforcement.
38-year-old Byron Montrail Purdy, known on the streets of Jackson, Tennessee, by his nicknames “Lil B” or “Ghetto,” was the highest-ranking Gangster Disciple within the State of Tennessee, holding the title of governor. He had earned his rank, having been a loyal and integral part of the group for over two decades.
As governor, Purdy manages gang activities within Tennessee and is responsible for coordinating much of the criminal activity that occurs within the state. He did this in cooperation with other Gangster Disciples bosses throughout the United States, supervising the criminal activities of the gang, issuing orders to kill rivals and disobedient subordinates, and presiding over gang meetings.
A typical workday saw Purdy direct his underlings to carry out a wide variety of criminal activities. They handled largescale drug distribution – cocaine, heroin, marijuana, you name it, they sold it, weapons trafficking, robbery, kidnapping, assault, and murder. The life of a gangster isn’t pretty, but it brings in plenty of cash. One should call it hazard pay, though, since the risk of getting whacked or imprisoned is always there and only increases as time passes by.
It was no different for Purdy. On Friday, January 19, 2018, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise.
“[This] sentence of 30 years for Byron Purdy’s gang activity should send a serious warning to gang members of all factions in Jackson, Memphis and throughout West Tennessee that their continued reign of terror through actions of violence, intimidation, and all manner of firearms and narcotics trafficking will eventually come to an end,” Captain Phillip Kemper of the Jackson Police Department’s Special Operations Division said.
He continued: “This investigation of Purdy included crimes involving racketeering activity, which spanned two and half decades. Byron Purdy, who was the head of the Gangster Disciples enterprise for the State of Tennessee will now spend the majority of his adult life in Federal Prison. Gang life only leads to two places: the grave, or prison for an extended period of time.”
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