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Gang mentality

An oral history on the evolution of Atlanta gangs, from the Miami Boys to IRC to 30 Deep

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IRC member Carlos Drennon, who was shot during the Griffin incident, was subsequently incarcerated. Phone calls he made from jail were recorded and later used as evidence against him. The following is a portion of a phone conversation between Drennon and IRC member Maurice "Mo" Hargrove. Police believe Drennon was using code words in an attempt to instruct Hargrove and their fellow gang members to follow through and kill Griffin.

Hargrove: "Why the ho flag them and got in the back of the car with them? You heard me? They still ain't fuck the ho, bro."

Drennon: "For real?"

Hargrove: "Look, like I say, man, you ain't got nothing to worry about. Nigga going to fuck the ho, man. You heard me?"

Drennon: "Yeah, I sweatin' that ho, man. Shit, I already know the whole team going to run through that ho. You know what I'm saying?"

Hargrove: "Straight up."

Drennon: "So, you know, I just got to depend on you. You know what I'm saying? Go on ahead and lay that ho on out for me."

Hargrove: "Straight up. You already know that. That's my word. I'm a fuck the shit out that ho, man."

Randy Griffin was shot to death by members of IRC June 10, 2007. A court document describes how Hargrove and two other IRC members caught up with him at a well-known hip-hop club:

"Edward Morris, Jonathan Collins and Maurice Hargrove traveled to Club 112 and waited for Griffin to come out of the club. Once Griffin returned to his vehicle, Collins, Hargrove and Morris approached Griffin with firearms and shot him five times. [A]fter the murder, Collins, Hargrove, and Morris advised Easterling and Stevens that they killed Griffin and instructed Easterling and Stevens to inform Drennon. In response, Drennon stated, 'That's what's up. It's just a waiting game now.'"

The most high-profile of IRC's alleged crimes was one that earned national attention for its connection to a big name: Adam "Pacman" Jones. In June 2007, retired police officer Darian Haygood says his vehicle was peppered with bullets after a confrontation with Jones and IRC member Edward "Slugga" Morris at Club Blaze on Moreland Avenue, south of Atlanta. No one in Haygood's vehicle was injured and no one was ever charged with the shooting. Jones has denied any connection to the Club Blaze incident and has said that he and Morris were mere acquaintances. Gang members have told a different story.

IRC member Easterling: "[Jones and Morris] had already been dealing with each other, going to clubs and stuff."

"Slugga" Morris in an interview with ESPN: "[Jones is] my partner. We hang out."

Since the indictment and sentencing of IRC's major players — at least four of whom are serving life sentences in Georgia prisons — the gang has fallen off the radar, though not completely.

APD Maj. Chris Leighty: "They're still out there. Some of their members floated out, joined other groups. They kind of imploded themselves."

Where IRC left off: 30 Deep

If IRC is a collective of street-hardened thugs, 30 Deep is like their kid brother. Its members are younger, sloppier and not quite as ruthless — but certainly are inching toward IRC-type behavior. The APD has been aware of 30 Deep since at least 2005. Responsible for an untold number of smash-and-grab burglaries, they became colloquially known as the "Blue Jean Bandits" for their preferred methodology: stealing cars, breaking boutique windows and making off with high-end garments.

30 Deep has a vehicle of choice, which they commonly stole to use in the burglaries. From a 2009 police report:

"We have been having problems with Jeeps [being used in] smash and grabs at stores. The suspects are using large rocks to break the store windows out and loading the stolen property into the Jeep."

While they're far from victimless crimes, smash-and-grab burglaries don't tend to involve the infliction of physical harm on victims because they necessarily take place after business hours. Members of 30 Deep have, however, attempted to rob individuals in occupied homes and businesses — in at least one case with deadly results.

30 Deep became something of a household name after the shooting death of John Henderson at the Standard galvanized a citywide anti-crime movement. Four months after the shooting, 30 Deep member Jonathan Redding was arrested for Henderson's murder. If there was any question as to Redding's affiliation, "30" is tattooed on his cheek. He was 17 when the crime occurred.

APD Interim Chief Turner: "We've always felt that juveniles had the propensity to be more violent because the simple fact that when we're kids, we have that feeling that we're indestructible. They don't really see the ramifications. They don't really see what effect a split-second decision might have on the rest of their lives."

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