17 gang members linked to burning death of Mississippi teen Jessica Chambers

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17 Alleged Gang Members In Custody In Jessica Chambers Investigation

PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. -- The FBI rounded up suspected gang members this week in connection to the Jessica Chambers murder investigation.

A total of 17 people are facing charges under Operation Bite Back.

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FBI agents targeted suspected members of the Black Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Sipp Mob street gangs.

"The charges range from drug, weapon, child endangerment, counterfeiting, et cetera, so it's a variety of charges," said Special Agent in Charge for the State of Mississippi Donald Alway.

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The Jessica Chambers murder investigation tipped off investigators to gang issues in Panola County. A year-long investigation into gangs led to Operation Bite Back.

See photos of the slain girl:

16 PHOTOS
Jessica Chambers, Burned Woman in MS
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17 gang members linked to burning death of Mississippi teen Jessica Chambers
This undated photo provided by the Monroe Police Department shows Quinton Verdell Tellis, who was charged with capital murder in the death of Jessica Chambers and announced Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. The former high school cheerleader was found near death in her rural Mississippi hometown after being doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire more than a year ago. (Monroe Police Department via AP)
Mourners attend funeral for Jessica Chambers. (Facebook/Justice For Jessica)
Mourners attend funeral for Jessica Chambers. (Facebook/Justice For Jessica)
Mourners attend funeral for Jessica Chambers. (Facebook/Justice For Jessica)
Mourners attend funeral for Jessica Chambers. (Facebook/Justice For Jessica)
Mourners attend funeral for Jessica Chambers. (Facebook/Justice For Jessica)
Yellow crime scene tape marks the location where 19-year-old Jessica Chambers was found severely burned, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in Courtland, Miss. Chambers died Saturday after she was taken to a Memphis hospital with severe burns. Authorities are working to piece together the last hours of her life in efforts to catch who set her on fire. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz).
Yellow crime scene tape marks the location where 19-year-old Jessica Chambers was found severely burned, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 in Courtland, Miss. Chambers died Saturday after she was taken to a Memphis hospital with severe burns. Authorities are working to piece together the last hours of her life in efforts to catch who set her on fire. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
A gas station and convenience store where, according to surveillance video, Jessica Chambers visited before she was found severely burned along the side of a Mississippi road is pictured on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in Courtland, Miss. Chambers, 19, died Saturday after she was taken to a Memphis hospital with severe burns. Authorities are working to piece together the last hours of her life in efforts to catch who killed her. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
A gas station and convenience store where, according to surveillance video, Jessica Chambers visited before she was found severely burned along the side of a Mississippi road is pictured on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in Courtland, Miss. Chambers, 19, died Saturday after she was taken to a Memphis hospital with severe burns. Authorities are working to piece together the last hours of her life in efforts to catch who killed her. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
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While the probe into Chambers' death led to the arrests, none have been charged in connection to the murder. Investigators say the 19-year-old was burned alive in her car on December 6, 2014.

"We started the deep interrogation with the Jessica case, and people began to volunteer information to us and things like that, and we realized right away that something had to be done," said District Attorney John Champion.

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Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby stressed that the suspected gang members' charges have nothing to do with the Chambers case but agreed that her case encouraged investigators to dig into Panola's gang issue.

Federal and state prosecutors worked together to determine which charges would face the stiffest penalties and charged them accordingly.


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