New Orleans, La. - He's already a convicted killer. Now, Telly Hankton and 12 others face federal charges for their alleged involvement in a deep-rooted crime organization that the feds say operated in the Uptown and Central City areas since 1996.
Telly Hankton is described as the alleged ringleader.
"These are groups of individuals preying on the people of New Orleans, and we're not going to tolerate it anymore. We're coming to get those people," says Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
According to the 22-count indictment, members of the organization ran a violent drug ring. It states that members murdered rival drug dealers, intimidated witnesses and even murdered a witness's family member in an effort to obstruct justice.
"It's very lengthy, very sprawling and when you read it, it indicates that you may see other individuals at a later date brought into this," says attorney Robert Jenkins.
Jenkins is not representing any of the suspects indicted but he says he's never seen a more detailed and unusual indictment. He points to a list of overt acts in the document that go as far as to detail when Hankton's attorney was allegedly paid tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
"That's telling because you have to wonder whether or not attorneys are going to come in to cooperate, or they're looking at whether or not the attorneys declared this type of money or where did this money come from," says Jenkins.
Andre Hankton, Telly Hankton, Walter Porter, Thomas Hankton and Kevin Jackson are charged with specific murders.
Telly Hankton's mother, Shirley, who owns a home on Josephine Street in Central City, was also taken into custody. According to the indictment, she was the organizer, communicator and facilitator for the enterprise and its leaders. 58-year-old Shirley Hankton is charged with laundering money, committing perjury and obstructing justice.
"This is a major enterprise in terms of economic clout and the feds did an incredible job of breaking it," says Tulane criminologist Peter Scharf
The feds point to help they received throughout the investigation from both the DA's office and the NOPD.
"The clear message that's being sent from us is, if you're messing around in any way with one person, two, three or four, we are either going to get you individually or we are going to get you in a group," says Mayor Landrieu.
Prosecutors are seeking to seize at least $43 million in assets from the defendants if they are convicted.
The indictment could lead to a death penalty case for Telly Hankton and four others.