She was a top member of the violent Bloods gang. She secretly worked for the FBI for years.

Alleged leaders of the Bloods gang are on trial in Charlotte. Who they are in 60 seconds.

Two of the alleged highest-ranking leaders of United Blood Nation are on trial, accused of running an organized-crime network with extensive ties to the Carolinas — from their prison cells in New York state.
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Two of the alleged highest-ranking leaders of United Blood Nation are on trial, accused of running an organized-crime network with extensive ties to the Carolinas — from their prison cells in New York state.

Her FBI code name was "Carp."

Her gang nicknames were Lady Red, Lady I, Lady Grown and Lady Hunter.

When she took the witness stand in Charlotte federal court Thursday, prosecutors called her Kellie Starr.

She was a high-ranking North Carolina member of the violent gang United Blood Nation. For five years, starting in 2012, she passed extensive information about the gang to FBI agents.

Through the paperwork and letters she provided, the FBI mapped out the structure of the gang, which stretches up and down the East Coast. It all culminated early one morning in May 2017, when law enforcement officials from New York to Florida arrested 83 accused gang members. They were charged with a range of offenses, from murder and drug trafficking to identity theft.

She doesn't use the name Kellie Starr now, prosecutor Andrew Creighton said. But she was allowed to keep her current name out of the courtroom, where the alleged chairman of the council of the United Blood Nation and two other top leaders sat Thursday.

The penalty for Bloods who "snitch" to law enforcement is death.

Starr was soft-spoken as she began her testimony Thursday. She smiled often, despite the fact that she was being watched by alleged chairman Pedro Gutierrez and alleged gang leaders James Baxton and Cynthia Gilmore, all of whom are on trial for interstate racketeering.

A North Carolina native, Starr said she joined the Bloods in Shelby in 2008, when she was about 24.

Between 2008 and 2012, she sold drugs to pay gang dues, she said. She also brought drugs and cellphones to Bloods members in prison in New York and North Carolina.

Attorney General Alan Wilson holds a news conference about State Grand Jury gang indictments.

In 2011, police intercepted a letter on its way out of prison. It contained threats against Starr. She said she was already aware, by that point, that some people wanted her dead.

Police came to her house, talked to her mother and asked her to get in touch. She didn't.

"I was a Blood," she said. "I didn't want to change. Whatever was gonna happen would happen."

Shortly after that, someone lit her mother's car on fire. No one was hurt.

But then, in 2012, Starr was jumped by three members of the Bloods, she said. They pinned her down and burned circles into her shoulder with a hot bottle cap.

In the courtroom, Starr took off her cardigan, pulled up the short sleeve of her flowered top and showed the marks to the jury.

Her attackers were trying to give her four "dog paws," she said. The three-circle mark has symbolic meaning to the Bloods.

"If you have three dog paws and you get a fourth one, it means you're no longer a Blood," she said.

The FBI approached her a second time shortly after the attack. She agreed to act as a confidential informant.

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In addition to selling drugs and acting as a key communications channel between members in different prisons, Starr performed typing and administrative work for the gang. That gave her access to extensive records from different "sets," or gang sub-groups.

She started forwarding emails to the FBI from her email address — She passed on documents and told the FBI about every godfather, or set leader, in the gang, as well as information on how the whole gang was laid out.

She visited New York prisons and met Baxton and Gutierrez after she started working for the FBI, she said. By the end of her time as an informant, she had met nearly every godfather in the gang while they were imprisoned in New York.

The FBI paid Starr about $37,000 for her services and expenses from 2012 to 2017.

After the big roundup in 2017, her personal security was an issue. Bloods who betray the gang are S.O.S., which stands for "shot on sight," Starr said during questioning Thursday.

The FBI considered moving her into a program with "very intensive security measures," Creighton said. A program often mentioned on television, he said, though he didn't name it.

But that didn't work out. Instead, the FBI paid Starr $100,000 all at once, in late 2017.

The trial is expected to continue through next week.

Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester