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How Did The Jessica Chambers Investigation Lead To A Major Gang Crackdown By The FBI?
Jessica Chambers’ murder investigation uncovered widespread criminal activity.
Justice for Jessica Chambers, the 19-year-old former cheerleader who was burned alive in December 2014 in rural Mississippi, has not yet been achieved, with a second trial for her murder recently ending in a hung jury. While the case did not result in a murder conviction of suspect Quinton Tellis, 17 people were indicted on a wide range of charges as an unexpected byproduct of the investigation in 2015.
After the car Chambers was in was doused with an accelerant and lit on fire, authorities launched an extensive investigation, interviewing more than 150 people and examining more than 20,000 phone records. This comprehensive examination revealed other illegal activity, leading the FBI to this corollary operation.
A year after Chambers died, the FBI rounded up 17 suspected members from three gangs related to drug charges in a mission called “Operation Bite Back,” according to CNN affiliate WREG. FBI agents targeted members of gangs named “Black Gangster Disciples,” “Vice Lords” and “Sipp Mob,” reported WREG.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, FBI spokesman Jason Pack said that in assisting state and local investigators, the FBI found illegal activity that resulted in the 17 indictments. District Attorney John Champion, who unsuccessfully litigated the state’s case against Quinton Tellis, told the Clarion-Ledger that the FBI gathered intelligence on the three gangs from local law enforcement and the community.
Charges included robbery, possession of a stolen gun, sale of cocaine and child endangerment, according to a press release from the FBI.
Of these 17 people indicted in “Operation Bite Back,” Oxygen.com was able to confirm that two — Xavier Hooks and Elgin Lamar — are currently in state prison, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections Inmate Locator. Others may have received reduced charges or have already completed sentences so they would not currently be in the state system. Hooks was convicted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, while Lamar was convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.
Kesha Meyer, a friend of Chambers’ who had spent time with her on the day she was set on fire, testified in the first trial upon cross-examination that Chambers was “selling marijuana every other day in the last six months of her life.” She also admitted they regularly smoked marijuana together. Chambers had recently spent time at Leah’s House, a “women’s restoration” home, and her family was confident she was getting her life together, according to WREG.
“Operation Bite Back” has no direct link to the Jessica Chambers murder case.
Watch “Unspeakable Crime: The Killing Of Jessica Chambers” on Oxygen on Saturdays at 7/6c.