RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Gang members from Wilson and Johnson counties who forced two men they kidnapped to strip naked to make sure they didn’t steal drugs from them are among three convicted of federal firearms and carjacking charges.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday that Kenneth “Smoke” Piper and Eric Cruz Pineda pleaded guilty to carjacking and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.
A federal jury convicted Allen “Slim” Martin Smith last week of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Smith faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in March while Piper and Pineda face between seven years and life.
Piper is from Wilson, Pineda is from Kenly and Smith is from Pitt County. All three are validated members of the Gangsters Disciples gang.
Prosecutors said in court that Piper and Pineda carjacked and kidnapped two men in Wilson in December 2020 because of a drug debt, with each brandishing shotguns and assaulting the men before forcing them to strip to ensure neither had stolen drugs from them.
They were arrested after a police officer spotted them and stopped the car.
Prosecutors also say officers Smith and Piper, who was out on bond, in February 2022 led them on a high-speed chase out of a trailer park and across three counties before crashing in LaGrange and fleeing, dropping a .9mm pistol that was recovered by Lenoir County officers.
Smith was eventually arrested by Kinston Police and prosecutors say he admitted that a gun was in the car.