ATHENS, Ga. -- Recently filed court documents suggest that an apartment in a housing complex near downtown Athens served as a base of operations for a gang connected to several robberies since 2011.
The home at Bethel Midtown Village was where police earlier this month conducted a search in connection with a July 13 armed robbery in which a group of masked men pulled the victim from a car west of downtown, according to the search warrant filed last week in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court.
The apartment was leased to Laquena Watson, 21, who police said is “intimately” involved with a group called Boss Playaz, also known as the BP gang, according to the warrant.
Authorities arrested Watson on drug charges following the July 18 search along with purported BP gang members Daquan Verquese Faust, 20, and Rene Tyrone Harper, 26. Harper was charged as one of the masked men who dragged a victim from a car and robbed him on Florida Avenue.
In the search warrant, a detective identified Harper as a member of the Boss Playaz, and stated a source told him “Harper and Daquan Faust are running together in order to commit armed robberies.”
When arrested, Harper had a cocaine trafficking charge pending in Clarke County Superior Court.
The detective identifies in an affidavit for the search warrant another BP member, 21-year-old Justin Oneal Baughns, who police said is suspected of committing as many as five so-called Craigslist robberies between September and December.
In those robberies, police said Baughns arranged to meet with people who advertised merchandise for sale on the popular website, then stole the items from the buyers.
A Clarke County grand jury in January accused Baughns of committing two of the Craigslist robberies.
An alleged associate of the gang is 21-year-old Clinton Vondell Jackson, who authorities said shot and wounded a man during a July 3 home invasion armed robbery earlier at Bethel Midtown Village.
Soon after the shooting, officers found Jackson hiding in Watson’s apartment and arrested him.
While searching the apartment, officers found the weapon allegedly used in the home invasion hidden inside a child’s teddy bear, according to the search warrant.
The day Watson was arrested at her apartment with the purported BP members, officers detained all of the suspects until a judge signed a search warrant allowing a search of the home for more evidence of armed robbery and gang activity.
Among other evidence, investigators found bullets of different calibers, ski masks, cocaine, scales, gang-related letters in Watson’s purse and a photograph of a child drinking beer, according to an inventory sheet attached to the search warrant.
The inventory sheet also listed several mobile phones, a laptop computer and a video camera.
“Based on information (a detective) received, the members of the BP group will commonly use their cellular devices to upload pictures of their illegal gang related activity as well as computers to access Facebook profiles, which they use to communicate, sometimes in code, about their illegal activities,” according to the search warrant affidavit.
“Also based on this information, the group will wear clothing that identifies themselves as a group, such as bandanas, T-shirts and hats,” according to the warrant.