24 al­leged mem­bers of gang in­dicted

‘Murda­land Mafia Piru’ ac­cused of over­see­ing vi­o­lent drug oper­a­tion

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Rec­tor

Two dozen al­leged gang mem­bers have been in­dicted on fed­eral rack­e­teer­ing and other charges af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­ter­mined they over­saw a vi­o­lent drug oper­a­tion in Bal­ti­more City and County that was associated with mur­der, ex­tor­tion, wit­ness in­tim­i­da­tion, money laun­der­ing and other crimes, pros­e­cu­tors said Tues­day.

Mary­land U.S. At­tor­ney Rod J. Rosen­stein said other gangs in the Bal­ti­more area should con­sider the in­dict­ment of the “Murda­land Mafia Piru” mem­bers — the re­sult of an ex­ten­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volv­ing wire­taps and re­views of so­cial me­dia post­ings — as a warn­ing from lo­cal and fed­eral law en­force­ment.

“We know that most of the vi­o­lence in Bal­ti­more City is fu­eled by vi­o­lent drug or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the one that we are in­dict­ing to­day,” Rosen­stein said. “On av­er­age six peo­ple are mur­dered every week in Bal­ti­more City, 12 more vic­tims are shot and wounded every week, and by work­ing to­gether we can bring those num­bers down.”

The Murda­land gang, associated with the Cal­i­for­nia-based Bloods or­ga­ni­za­tion, first gained a foothold in North­west Bal­ti­more and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties in

Bal­ti­more County — as well as in cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties in the state — in 2008 af­ter an­other fed­eral in­dict­ment helped to dis­man­tle the then-dom­i­nant lo­cal Bloods gang, the Tree Top Piru, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Sev­eral for­mer mem­bers of the Tree Top Piru “took ad­van­tage of the power vac­uum” and even­tu­ally met with West Coast gang lead­ers to seek per­mis­sion to es­tab­lish the new Bal­ti­more group, and then quickly be­gan es­tab­lish­ing their own ter­ri­tory, pros­e­cu­tors said.

The gang charged its mem­bers dues and other drug deal­ers a “tax” to op­er­ate on the gang’s turf, vi­o­lently en­forc­ing its con­trol through a hi­er­ar­chi­cal sys­tem mod­eled on the Ital­ian Mafia, pros­e­cu­tors said. Those who killed for the gang got light­ning bolt tat­toos, while those who be­trayed the gang, in­clud­ing by talk­ing to law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, were marked for reprisal — in­clud­ing death.

The gang dom­i­nated drug mar­kets from Wind­sor Mill to Wake­field, For­est Park to Howard Park and through­out the Gwynn Oak and Wood­lawn area, tak­ing par­tic­u­lar ad­van­tage of its prox­im­ity to In­ter­state 70 to sell drugs to cus­tomers “driv­ing from Western Mary­land and neigh­bor­ing states,” pros­e­cu­tors said.

Gang mem­bers al­legedly took over le­git­i­mate busi­nesses in the area as bases from which to ped­dle heroin, co­caine and crack co­caine, pros­e­cu­tors said — in­clud­ing a BP gas sta­tion that was pad­locked and forced to close for two months by the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment for its al­leged role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

“It was not un­usual for MMP mem­bers and as­so­ci­ates to sell over a kilo­gram of drugs per week at this lo­ca­tion, which could trans­late to over $100,000 in drug rev­enue per week,” pros­e­cu­tors said. Gang mem­bers then “fun­neled drug pro­ceeds through casi­nos to laun­der the money by mak­ing it ap­pear as though they had won the money gam­bling,” pros­e­cu­tors said.

The casi­nos were not spec­i­fied, though pros­e­cu­tors said they were both in­side and out­side the state.

Those in­dicted in­clude Dante “Gutta” Bailey, 37, the al­leged leader of the gang, on rack­e­teer­ing, con­spir­acy, gun and drug charges. Rosen­stein said the in­dict­ments also in­volved “folks on the front lines” for the gang, in­clud­ing mem­bers be­lieved to be re­spon­si­ble for vi­o­lence.

For ex­am­ple, the in­dict­ment al­leges that a gang mem­ber named Don­tray “Gam­bino” John­son, 31 — fac­ing sim­i­lar charges to Bailey’s — killed a fel­low gang mem­ber in Septem­ber 2015 be­cause he “re­fused to pay gang dues.”

It says John­son vis­ited Bailey in the Bal­ti­more County De­ten­tion Cen­ter at the time, where Bailey was locked up, and dis­cussed the killing with him.

“In a recorded con­ver­sa­tion, Bailey ap­proved the mur­der, say­ing ‘I told you about this. ... Blow a f—ing head off!’ ” the in­dict­ment states. It also al­leges the gang was in­volved in mul­ti­ple other at­tempted mur­ders and shoot­ings.

Nei­ther Bailey nor John­son, both of whom have been ar­rested, could be reached for com­ment, and they did not have at­tor­neys listed in fed­eral court doc­u­ments. Andy Alper­stein, an at­tor­ney who rep­re­sents Bailey in a sep­a­rate Bal­ti­more County case, de­clined to com­ment.

As of Tues­day af­ter­noon, 17 of the 24 in­di­vid­u­als in­dicted had been ar­rested. Of­fi­cials were still look­ing for the re­main­ing seven. All 24 de­fen­dants could face a max­i­mum sen­tence of life in prison for the rack­e­teer­ing con­spir­acy, while some face ad­di­tional time be­hind bars for other al­leged crimes, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Rosen­stein said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion could lead to more in­dict­ments at the na­tional level.

“One of the things that we’ll be pur­su­ing is whether or not we can work our way up to any na­tional gang lead­ers — po­ten­tially some of the lead­ers in Cal­i­for­nia who are ref­er­enced in the in­dict­ment as peo­ple who sanc­tioned or ap­proved the ac­tiv­i­ties of this Bloods set in Bal­ti­more — be­cause our goal is not to have to keep do­ing this,” Rosen­stein said.

Spe­cial Agent in Charge Daniel L. Board Jr. of the fed­eral Bu­reau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives, which helped lead the large-scale oper­a­tion to ar­rest those in­dicted, said there are “more or­ga­ni­za­tions that are on our radar,” in­clud­ing the Crips and the Black Guer­rilla Fam­ily gangs.

Bal­ti­more State’s At­tor­ney Mar­i­lyn J. Mosby said the in­dict­ments were “yet an­other ex­am­ple of a united front” of lo­cal and fed­eral law en­force­ment in Bal­ti­more to root out and ar­rest crim­i­nals who she said are driv­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ate amounts of vi­o­lence in the city.

Bal­ti­more Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis said that “word hits the street when these guys are taken into cus­tody and are no longer avail­able to harm our com­mu­ni­ties.”

Nei­ther Davis nor Bal­ti­more County Po­lice Chief Jim John­son would spec­ify what ac­tions they are tak­ing to pre­vent a new gang from tak­ing over the MMP’s ter­ri­tory, as the MMP did af­ter the dis­man­tling of the ear­lier gang, but both said they are work­ing closely to do so.

Rosen­stein said law en­force­ment of­fi­cials in Bal­ti­more are well aware of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties now that they have dis­rupted a large crim­i­nal en­ter­prise that dom­i­nated a wide swath of ter­ri­tory in the city and county for years.

“We’re not un­der any il­lu­sions that you can in­dict one gang and then dis­ap­pear and as­sume ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to be great,” he said. “There’s con­tin­u­ing work to be done.”

Rosen­stein said his of­fice also is work­ing with law en­force­ment of­fi­cials in neigh­bor­ing states to in­ves­ti­gate how the drugs sold by the MMP made their way into net­works there, and with state reg­u­la­tors who over­see casi­nos in Mary­land to con­tinue to “follow the money” moved through those fa­cil­i­ties by crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“The casi­nos are heav­ily reg­u­lated, as you know, and as a re­sult they do tend to co­op­er­ate with law en­force­ment,” he said. “So we have suc­cess when we are look­ing for records of crim­i­nal pro­ceeds that we be­lieve have been laun­dered through casi­nos.”

A spokes­woman for the Mary­land Lottery and Gam­ing Con­trol Agency, which reg­u­lates casi­nos in the state, said in a state­ment that agency of­fi­cials “stand ready to as­sist all law en­force­ment agen­cies re­gard­ing any casino in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

In­di­vid­u­als still be­ing sought as of Tues­day af­ter­noon are Tif­fany Bailey, Randy “Dirt” Banks, De­lante Lee, Ja­mal “Lil Man” Smith, Ken­neth “Bean” Torry, Sha­keen Davis, and Takuma “Oop” Tate. Any­one with in­for­ma­tion is asked to con­tact the ATF’s fugitive tip line at 888-ATF-TIPS.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.