Attorney General Bill McCollum News Release
October 19, 2009
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Orange County Jury Convicts North Florida Gang Members
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that two members of a violent “hybrid” gang in Gadsden County have been convicted by an Orange County jury on criminal charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. Quintarius Shorter and Ladipo Chad Bethea were among seven who were arrested last year and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution. The guilty verdicts were returned late Friday night.
“As this case exemplifies, gangs pose a serious threat to every part of our state – large cities and smaller communities alike,” said Attorney General McCollum. “Only through statewide cooperation are we able to reclaim our state from these dangerous criminals.”
The jury returned guilty verdicts against Shorter, 27 and Bethea, 34, for racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, and conspiracy to traffic more than 400 grams of cocaine. Shorter was sentenced to 30 years in prison and Bethea was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
The gang had been classified by investigators as a “hybrid gang,” one which operates locally without national ties. Hybrid gang members rarely exhibit the traditional gang signs and colors, but are often just as dangerous if not more destructive than traditional gangs and hold smaller communities hostage under their violent and terrifying influence.
The arrests were made in early 2008 during a coordinated operation by the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, and the State Attorney’s Office for the Second Judicial Circuit. The case was prosecuted in the Ninth Judicial Circuit because some of the narcotics-related charges were related to criminal activity in Orange County.
The arrests marked the end of a lengthy investigation into a series of murders in Gadsden County. During the course of the murder investigations, evidence of numerous other crimes, such as home invasion robberies, drug trafficking and various other violent crimes, was developed and led to the indictments. The investigation identified the alleged gang members as individuals connected to widespread criminal activity including several murders, statewide drug trafficking and witnesses tampering. The 18th Statewide Grand Jury issued indictments for the men in February 2008.
Co-defendants Terrance Shorter and Daltonica Shorter have been convicted and were sentenced to prison sentences of 45 years and 15 years, respectively. Co-defendant Aaron Thomas, 29, pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced to three years in prison. Co-defendant Gabriel James pleaded guilty to his charges in December and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Co-defendant Laterrance Parks pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.