High-ranking members of Columbia’s United Blood Nation ordered a hit on a member suspected of working as a police informant, according to testimony Wednesday in federal court.
Andre “Dre” Cummings was one of three gang members who allegedly participated in a phone conversation in which the unnamed informant was discussed and the hit was ordered, said Kevin Conroy, an FBI agent who participated in a federal investigation into the gang’s activities. Later, the informant was severely beaten, he said.
When asked to explain what it means to order a hit, Conroy said, “It could mean a severe beating, but in my experience when someone says they’re going to put a hit on someone, it means they’re going to kill them.”
The June 2011 conversation about the hit was intercepted after federal agents used a court-authorized cellphone wiretap as part of their investigation. Its details were revealed Wednesday as Cummings and his defense attorney, Jan Strifling, asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph McCrorey to set a bond for multiple criminal charges he faces.
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U.S. Attorney Mark Moore argued against a bond that could release Cummings from jail as he awaits his trial.
“He is a high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang,” Moore said. “The Bloods have a reign of terror on this community.”
McCrorey denied the bond request.
Cummings is one of 38 Columbia-area men and women indicted in June after a lengthy investigation that involved wiretaps, video surveillance, undercover agents and informants. Their alleged crimes range from drug dealing and prostitution to murder to using the Internet for filing file false income tax returns.
Cummings is accused of six crimes, including drug dealing and robbery. He allegedly advised other gang members in May 2011 how to rob some Lexington County drug dealers of their stash and money. He also is accused of robbing another Bloods gang member who was running a prostitution ring. Cummings allegedly used money from that robbery to give money to higher-ranking members of the gang.
During his testimony, Conroy said Cummings helped lead Columbia’s Bloods when two other leaders were in jail.
“Mr. Cummings holds some type of rank within the Bloods, although there is some dispute whether he holds as high a rank as he thinks he has,” Conroy said.
The FBI agent’s testimony about Cummings’ role in the gang also revealed a secret code the Bloods used to communicate about drug deals.
Columbia’s Blood gang used a cipher system in which certain words are equated with numbers. For example, cypher stood for zero, knowledge stood for one, and wisdom stood for two. If a gang member wanted to buy $200 worth of crack, he would say “wisdom, cypher, cypher,” Conroy said.