Violent Gang Spreads Throughout Tri-County Area - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 07/29/08

Violent Gang Spreads Throughout Tri-County Area

By Monica Hernandez

Many people had never heard of the street gang known as the Simon City Royals until several suspected members were arrested in connection with a July 10th beating in Richland. But the drug-pushing gang isn't a small town operation. According to Richland Police, there more than 100 members in the tri-county area alone.

Detective Lloyd Coulter has been investigating the Simon City Royals since he joined the Richland Police force in 2007. He gave a detailed account of the drug-pushing street gang when he took the stand in Rankin County Court during the preliminary hearing for one of the alleged gang members charged in connection with the fight.

Coulter explained the gangs rules, structure, and organization. He claims the gang has an extensive rule book.

How does Coulter know? Informants from within the gang. Sammy Nardee and Brian Miller have been giving police inside information on the gang for some time. On June 30th, the two came to Coulter, fearing for their lives.

According to Coulter, the two informants borrowed money from the gang's pool, and couldn't pay it back. Coulter said that violated the gang's rules, and the gang's rule book called for a "smash on site" beating.

On July 10th, police say up to 25 Simon City Royals beat the two informants and one of their friends at their Richland home on Pearl Avenue. But the issue goes far beyond the Richland beating.

Police say the gang got stronger when it's ring leader, Bennie Ivy, was released from prison in April. Now, it has over 100 members in the tri-county area.

"It just goes to show that Madison and Rankin counties are not immune to the problems that face inner cities," said Mchael Guest, the District Attorney for Madison and Rankin County.

Police say the Simon City Royals have spread to Madison, the Reservoir area, and North and South Jackson. Authorities have identified about forty members. Nearly a dozen have been arrested in connection with that near-fatal gang fight in Richland. Three of them faced a Rankin County Judge.

Police said 23-year-old Herbert Russell Smith of Jackson enforces the gang's rules. He is charged with two counts of obstructing justice, one count of aggravated assault, one count of simple assault, and one count of gang activity. His preliminary hearing was waived, and bond was reduced from $1.2 million to $100,000.

19-year-old Britany Michelle Lee of Clinton was arrested with gang members in a car shortly after the beating. She is charged with being an accessory before and after the fact. Her preliminary hearing is being continued. Her great-great grandparents were tearful in the courtroom as they looked on.

Police said William Stewart was involved in a fight between the two informants hours before dozens of gang members came back to Pearl Avenue for the violent beating. William Stewart's bond was reduced to $75,000.

"We believe and we hope that our investigation will lead to other illegal activities these gangs are involved with," said Guest.

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