21 IN­DICT­MENTS:

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Jes­sica An­der­son Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Justin Fen­ton con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. jkan­der­son@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jan­ders5

The Mary­land U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice has an­nounced a sweep­ing in­dict­ment of 21 peo­ple who prose­cu­tors say were mem­bers of a vi­o­lent Cherry Hill gang that is re­spon­si­ble for13 killings and 21 shoot­ings.

The Mary­land U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice has an­nounced a sweep­ing in­dict­ment of 21peo­ple who prose­cu­tors say were mem­bers of a vi­o­lent Cherry Hill gang that is re­spon­si­ble for 13 killings and 21shoot­ings dat­ing to 2002.

A grand jury in­dict­ment un­sealed Fri­day says the de­fen­dants, ages 20 to 38, were mem­bers of the Hill­side En­ter­prise, which op­er­ated out of the South Bal­ti­more neigh­bor­hood, sell­ing drugs and com­mit­ting acts of vi­o­lence all over the re­gion, in­clud­ing homi­cides, shoot­ings, home in­va­sions and beat­ings.

The de­fen­dants are charged with con­spir­acy to dis­trib­ute con­trolled sub­stances and other drug of­fenses. If con­victed, each faces a manda­tory min­i­mum sen­tence of 10 years and a max­i­mum of life in prison. Though they are not charged with mur­der, U.S. At­tor­ney Rod Rosen­stein said, the in­dict­ments specif­i­cally al­lege that 11 of the de­fen­dants were in­volved in killings and they face en­hanced sen­tences.

“That’s sig­nif­i­cant be­cause one of the chal­lenges we have in Bal­ti­more, and it’s true in many places in the coun­try, is that it’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to prove mur­der cases against drug-deal­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions,” Rosen­stein said.

Since 2013, Bal­ti­more po­lice and fed­eral au­thor­i­ties teamed up to in­ves­ti­gate gangs in the Cherry Hill area, and have in­dicted at least 35 mem­bers of Up da Hill, Lit­tle Spel­man and Cop­pin Court or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est in­dict­ment, many of the killings and shoot­ings were re­tal­i­a­tions against ri­val gang Up da Hill. Sev­eral vic­tims were in­no­cent by­s­tanders, in­clud­ing Tracey Bow­ers, who was killed in Lans­downe in 2009, and Yolanda John­son, killed in Cherry Hill in 2013, the in­dict­ment said.

Hill­side mem­bers of­ten sold drugs — pow­der and crack co­caine, heroin, oxy­codone and mar­i­juana — around Cherry Hill, the in­dict­ment says.

As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney An­drea Smith, who worked on the Hill­side case, said that af­ter the 2013 in­dict­ments, the neigh­bor­hood went more than 700 days with­out a shoot­ing.

Smith, who is about to re­tire from the of­fice, said such in­dict­ments have a greater im­pact on vi­o­lence be­cause they tar­get an en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“If you take out en­tire groups, you can have an im­pact,” she said.

One of the de­fen­dants, Le­mar Wil­liams, is be­lieved to be con­nected to three killings, of­fi­cials said, in­clud­ing the Jan­uary fa­tal shoot­ing of Isahia Bon­ner, who was seated at a kitchen table in­side a home in the 400 block of Round­view Road.

Wil­liams’ fa­ther, War­ren Wil­liams, is a lead “vi­o­lence in­ter­rupter” with Safe Streets, a Bal­ti­more health de­part­ment pro­gram that uses re­leased felons or ex-gang mem­bers to pre­vent vi­o­lence.

Reached by phone Fri­day, War­ren Wil­liams said only, “I have noth­ing to do with that.”

Thir­teen of the de­fen­dants are in cus­tody, while eight are con­sid­ered fugi­tives.

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