Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

Cartel Raids and Other Crime News in the Weekly News Roundup
March 24-30, 2019

By Ryan Pitkin

March 30, 2019

Another week has flown by, and whether you slept or worked through it, we’ve got you covered with five news stories we’ve been following closely. 

Kendal Crank

Three men have been arrested for the tragic murder of a 27-year-old mother who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time on Thursday afternoon. Police arrested 22-year-old Tychicus Dobie, 17-year-old Adonis Smith and 24-year-old Marquis Smith for the killing of Kendal Crank. Investigators believe Crank was caught in the crossfire of a shootout while she was driving down West 28th Street near North Tryon Street just after 5 p.m. on Thursday. About 20 minutes later, a man checked into CMC-Main Hospital with a non-life-threatening injury. He was later arrested for Clark’s murder, though it’s unclear which of the above-mentioned suspects that was. Clark was the mother of two children, 3 and 9 years old, and her family told WSOC that she was driving to class at nursing school at the time of the shooting. 


Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies made sweeping arrests in Charlotte and California on Thursday as the result of a year-long investigation into a drug cartel called Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department worked alongside the State Bureau of Investigations and the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office to investigate the cartel, resulting in 18 arrests and the seizure of 40 pounds of heroin, 20 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 15 pounds of cocaine. The estimated street value of the entire take was placed at $3.5 million. Police also seized a firearm and $8,000 in cash during the investigation, which was carried out by the local branch of the DEA Task Force, which investigates high-level drug trafficking domestically and internationally. Locally, the DEA Task Force consists of a partnership between CMPD; Cornelius, Monroe, Mint Hill, Huntersville and Pineville police departments; and the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Several federal partners also assisted with this specific investigation. “The CMPD’s involvement with the DEA Task Force underscores our commitment to combatting the opioid crisis plaguing our community,” the CMPD wrote in a press release following the raids. “The success of this investigation is a testament to the dedicated, hard work of the CMPD and our partners.” 

Product seized by investigators in the recent cartel raids. (Photo courtesy of CMPD)

A new report released on Wednesday shows that, while we are technically out of the Great Recession, it’s getting more difficult for many North Carolina families to pay for the basic needs necessary to provide for their families, much less thrive. The Living Income Standard report, released by the Budget & Tax Center, a North Carolina Justice Center project, a family of two adults and two children must earn $52,946 a year in order to actually afford housing, food, child care, health care, transportation, taxes, and other necessities — more than double the federal poverty threshold for a family of four. In Mecklenburg County, that number goes up to $59,527.

The report details the problems with current measures like the Federal Poverty Level and the federal minimum wage, which the NCJC says don’t accurately reflect what is actually needed to make ends meet in North Carolina. For example, the Federal Poverty Level doesn’t take into account expenses such as child care or regional differences in the cost of living.

“When workers aren’t paid what it takes to meet their basic needs, they have to make decisions that hurt the well-being of their families, the vitality of communities, and the strength of North Carolina’s economy,” Brian Kennedy II, a policy analyst with the Budget & Tax Center and author of the report, stated in a press release. “When work doesn’t pay, workers have to take on multiple jobs, cut back on savings, take on debt, turn to public programs to make up the difference in their household budget, and reduce their investments in their own future productivity.” 


CMPD made an arrest in the 2013 murder of 19-year-old Ondrea Stevenson, who was pregnant at the time of her murder. Stevenson was killed in a drive-by shooting at an apartment complex near Southwest Community Park at 2 a.m. on December 4, 2013. Stevenson was reportedly sleeping on a friend’s couch in the apartment when the suspect opened fire from outside. She was struck and later died at the hospital. On Thursday, two weeks after what would have been Stevenson’s 25th birthday, detectives with CMPD’s Homicide Unit arrested 33-year-old Carlos Knox and charged him with first-degree murder, murder of an unborn child and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Ondrea Stevenson

Danquirs Franklin

Two people were lost to gun violence in Charlotte this week along with Kendal Crank, with both the first two killings occurring on Monday. Deonte Thompson, 27, was shot and killed on Faires Road at around 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning. Later that day, police arrested 30-year-old Shakeli Lewis and charged her with first-degree murder. Later that day, CMPD officer Wende Kerl shot and killed 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin outside of a Burger King after multiple people called 911 to report that a man with a gun was terrorizing people inside the restaurant. Police claim that Franklin was that man, and that he refused to drop his gun after being repeatedly ordered to do so by officers who confronted him. Others on the scene have told different stories. At a town hall meeting on Thursday night, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said that a superior court judge will release the body-worn camera footage from the officers involved “when the time is right.” 

 

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