Police say the Hidden Valley Kings are all but gone.
Last week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police announced that they’d arrested a dozen people connected to a drug-dealing operation in the Hidden Valley neighborhood in northeast Charlotte. Two of the people arrested had been identified as members of the Hidden Valley Kings, a homegrown gang that police have been systematically trying to dismantle for decades.
The two men may represent the last members of a gang that police estimated once totaled more than 500. Gang violence connected to the Kings – particularly a rolling shootout along North Tryon Street in 2005 – may be one of the things that forced Charlotte to acknowledge that street gangs were causing crime problems. Since the shootout, CMPD has formed a gang unit (that responds to all homicide scenes) and has partnered with federal law enforcement agencies to dismantle gangs.
A brief history of the Kings:
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▪ Early 1990’s. Some of the city’s native sons form a gang that would become the Hidden Valley Kings in an economically depressed community in northern Charlotte. The Kings sold pot, cocaine and Ecstasy, investigators say. Members drew on their familiarity with their streets to thwart police. The Kings were linked to fights, car thefts, break-ins and murders.
▪ October 2003. An Observer series about Charlotte gangs reports that the Kings were believed to be Charlotte’s largest. At that time, police had documented at least 125 members and believed four times that existed.
▪ Nov. 28, 2005. A fight that sparked gunfire inside Eastland Mall leads to a rolling shootout on North Tryon Street near Sugar Creek Road. Antonio Pruitt, a suspected gang member, was later charged with the ambush-style shooting of Juan Lawrence. City leaders, including many who had said Charlotte didn’t have a gang problem, were forced to confront the issue.
▪ March 30, 2007. Dozens of law enforcement officers swarm across Charlotte rounding up members of the Hidden Valley Kings – the largest crackdown on gang crime in Charlotte in 25 years. The indictment describes members as older, more organized and more active than police had previously revealed.
▪ August 2013. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police ask for a civil injunction to place restrictions on suspected members of the Hidden Valley Kings. The injunction prevents members of the Kings from associating with other members in public or being near someone who is carrying drugs or guns. CMPD said it was another tool that allowed them to get a foothold on crime in Hidden Valley. The injunction expired in 2014.
▪ April 13. Police announce the roundup of a dozen people they say are involved in a crack cocaine conspiracy. Some of the people involved are members of the Hidden Valley Kings. CMPD Capt. Rob Dance, who heads the North Tryon Division, says the gang is all but dead.