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DA: Gang livestreamed carjackings, stole gun from NOPD commander

Three of the suspects are in custody, but oneremains at large, investigators said.
Credit: NOPD

NEW ORLEANS — Four people were indicted by a grand jury on racketeering charges. The Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office said Thursday. 

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro announced the indictments during a news conference alongside indictments for three teenagers accused of murdering a woman during a botched car burglary. 

The 26-page indictment names 18-year-old Cornell Sparkman Jr., 23-year-old Quitman Hartford Jr., 29-year-old Jerome Jones, and 17-year-old Dinero Alexander as the perpetrators running a "criminal gang enterprise." 

Prosecutors say their gang committed auto burglaries, carjackings, shootings and armed robberies over an 18-month period across New Orleans. 

"These are some of the most brazen criminals our city has seen in some time," Cannizzaro said. "They have carried out their series of violent armed robberies, carjackings and nearly a dozen attempted murders, mostly in broad daylight. In some instances, they mockingly made their escapes by initiating high-speed chases on our city's streets, knowing that our policy-restricted police department would stand down."

Violation of the state's racketeering act, the first charge on the indictment against the four suspects, has a maximum sentence of up to 50 years in state prison. 

Sparkman, Hartford and Jones are in custody, but Alexander remains at large, investigators said.

Members of the group often bragged about or even live-streamed some of their crimes on social media platforms, according to prosecutors. One incident from May featured the daylight carjacking of a Maserati in Gert Town and a subsequent high-speed escape in another carjacked vehicle, all caught on a 15-minute Instagram Live video. 

They called their gang "T-Blocc" or "JayBucka Nation," and sometimes affiliated themselves with the "Byrd Gang/M3," a group clustered around the housing development known as "Old Magnolia."

The indictment against the four included "10 murder attempts against rival gang members and others with whom they had disputes," Cannizzaro said. The group is also allegedly responsible for the theft of a .40-caliber Glock 22 handgun from the secured trunk of an unmarked police vehicle belonging to an NOPD commander.

According to prosecutors, the gang suffered several setbacks as well. They reportedly abandoned a fatally-shot member of their group in a stolen car in the Garden District after a March 28 drive-by shooting targetting rival gang members. 

Sparkman had also been hospitalized in 2018 after he reportedly shot himself in the foot while attempting to grab a concealed gun from his pants pocket. 

Sparkman was arrested along with three juvenile suspects in June. A 17-year-old and a 16-year-old were arrested alongside Sparkman, and police later took a 15-year-old into custody in relation to the investigation. 

RELATED: NOPD arrests four suspects in armed carjacking and attempted murder cases, three of them juveniles

Prosecutors did not say how the juvenile suspects factored into the gang's hierarchy.

After his arrest, according to the district attorney's office, Sparkman complained in a recorded jailhouse phone call that he had been attacked in the jail by a rival gang member, who knocked him unconscious and stole his underwear. 

Sparkman reportedly refused to identify his assailant to authorities, and no underwear has been recovered.

Ed. Note: This story originally misidentified the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office as the U.S. District Attorney's Office. It has been updated to reflect the correct agency.