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Black Disciples leader among 23 charged in Englewood drug, gun case

Federal prosecutors say Darnell ‘Murder’ McMiller, the gang’s purported leader, bought large quantities of drugs from Charles Knight, a leader of the Gangster Disciples.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch discusses the federal charges brought against 23 people, including the alleged leader of the Black Disciples, in outside the Chicago Police Department’s Englewood District station on Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch discusses the federal charges brought against 23 people, including the alleged leader of the Black Disciples, in outside the Chicago Police Department’s Englewood District station on Wednesday.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The purported leader of the Black Disciples street gang is one of nearly two dozen people now facing federal charges after a years-long investigation into narcotics and firearms sales in Englewood.

Darnell “Murder” McMiller is alleged to be the leader of the Black Disciples, one of the largest and oldest gangs in the city. Federal prosecutors say he bought large quantities of drugs from Charles Knight, a leader of the Gangster Disciples.

Twenty others face various weapons and gun charges, prosecutors said. Another man, John Ector, the owner of the bar and restaurant V75, was charged with bank fraud.

Throughout the investigation, authorities seized more than 30 pounds of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl-laced heroin, crack cocaine and ecstasy pills, U.S. Attorney John Lausch said at a news conference Wednesday. More than $50,000 and 24 guns were recovered.

Darnell “Murder” McMiller
Federal court records

“While there are many things that need to be done to help our city’s violent crime problem — including jobs creation, providing strong education resources and the like — one thing that every reasonable person can agree upon is that violent offenders need to be held accountable for their crimes,” Lausch said.

It’s not the first time McMiller has been a target of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In 2013, he was charged with three counts of distributing a controlled substance, court records show. He later pleaded guilty to one of the counts and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

In McMiller’s sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said he told a cooperating witness that he’d previously carried out shootings for his crack cocaine supplier.

“On January 11, 2011, discussing his relationship with his crack cocaine supplier, [McMiller] told [the witness], ‘I do hits for him,’ and then, ‘I go in for him,’ meaning that [McMiller] kills people for money on behalf of his supplier,” prosecutors wrote. “[The witness] clarified, ‘So you a hit man for him?’ [McMiller] responded, ‘Yeah,’ to which [the witness] replied, ‘That’s why they call you ‘Murder.’”

Lawrence “Big Law” Loggins was the previous leader of the Black Disciples until he was murdered near 71st and Union in February 2019. At the time of his death, police sources said, Loggins was trying to consolidate power over the gang’s operations in the CPD’s Englewood, Gresham and Grand Crossing districts on the South Side.

Asked Wednesday if Loggins’ murder impacted the investigation, or if any of the 23 defendants are believed to be involved in the shooting, Lausch declined to comment.

In 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Cook County state’s attorney’s office filed charges against 18 members of a faction of the Gangster Disciples that tied the defendants to 11 murders in Englewood between 2014 and 2016.

Earlier this month, federal authorities announced that 18 people were charged after an investigation into fentanyl-laced heroin sales on the West Side.

The announcement of the new Englewood case comes shortly after President Donald Trump sent more than 200 additional federal agents to Chicago to help stem the tide of the city’s entrenched gun violence.

“The influx of federal resources under Operation Legend, announced last week, fits squarely within this same strategy … to rid our neighborhoods of gun-toters and drug traffickers in order to restore the rule of law and to help keep people safe,” Lausch said.

Contributing: Frank Main