Thirty-five Charged with Maryland Crime Spree

… Alleged crimes include murder, kidnapping and home invasion …

By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

8:07 PM EDT, October 13, 2011

Federal authorities announced Thursday a racketeering indictment charging 35 alleged Bloods gang members with murder, kidnapping and other crimes from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore — a move they said had “dismantled” the gang.

Authorities say cells of the South Side Brims coordinated gang activity across the state and region, and court documents offer a tutorial on how modern criminal organizations operate, including posting photos and messages on Facebook, and uploading initiation videos on YouTube.

Those indicted are accused of at least one murder in Baltimore, an attempted murder in Wicomico County, a home invasion in Howard County, a kidnapping in Frederick, and witness intimidation in Allegany County, among a host of other alleged crimes.

“Gangs represent the most significant violent crime challenge we face throughout the state of Maryland,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, flanked at a Baltimore news conference by police officials from across the state. “We hope these gang indictments send a message to gang members and prospective gang members to get out while you can.”

Frederick police chief Kim C. Dine said the case was “extremely significant” for his city, which he said has been conducting gang outreach work in recent years but is not immune to the spreading of gangs. “Sixteen of these gangsters are from Frederick, and it will have a huge impact on the city of Frederick and quality of life,” he said.

The alleged leader of the gang was identified as Andre Ricardo Roach, a 34-year-old Prince George’s County native. Known as “Redrum,” he’s accused of leading the gang since 2005 from behind bars at the North Branch Correctional Institute in Cumberland, where he is serving a 50-year sentence for second-degree murder.

Authorities said that helping him run day-to-day operations, including dues collection, was Monique Hagler, a Suitland woman referred to as the “First Lady” of the gang.

Pivotal to the case, authorities said, was the discovery of gang rosters. The first was found on Dec. 6, 2009, as Frederick police investigated a stabbing in the parking lot of a Motel 6. Inside a room, they discovered a three-page roster of members with geographic subsets and street names, as well as phone numbers.

Other rosters were recovered from a gang member admitted to a Gaithersburg hospital after being stabbed in September 2008, and a member’s jail cell in Richmond, Va. A fourth was found at a Stevensville home in 2010.

“This truly was a local case, which grew — little by little — built upon from the western side of Maryland to central Maryland to the Eastern Shore,” said Lt. Col. William M. Pallozzi of the Maryland State Police. “It shows everybody’s commitment to making Maryland communities safer.”

So-called gang “bibles” were discovered throughout the state, describing the organization’s history, a tutorial on its cryptogenic alphabet, and a glossary of terms. Authorities say the gang was brought here by a Bloods member from Compton, Calif., who became incarcerated here and recruited Roach.

In 2005, Roach was granted permission to start his own local subset called the South Side Brims, records show.

The indictment of members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang in 2009 revealed an extensive flow of cell phones, drugs and other goods in Maryland’s prison system. Though Roach is alleged to have run the Bloods gang from his cell, Rosenstein said that did not indicate continuing problems in the system, which has used a number of new methods to catch contraband.

“Some of the correspondence was old-fashioned letters,” Rosenstein said. “I think the state of Maryland has been much more effective at controlling the criminal activity managed out of the state jails and prisons.”

Still, Rosenstein said, the benefit of the federal indictment is that if convicted, those charged will be shipped out of state, making it harder for them to influence local crime.

Only two of those indicted Thursday are from Baltimore, though one of them, Theodore Clifton Matthews, is accused of a murder committed Sept. 4, 2009. Officials declined to identify which of the three people slain that day in the city was the alleged victim.

Documents show that a gang member named Jerome Blackmon was murdered in Northeast Baltimore on Sept. 11, 2009, prompting Roach to send a letter that said the killing would be “rektified.” “This letter reflects the violence in which the gang is embroiled,” FBI Agent Matthew Vilcek wrote in court papers.

Authorities list houses in Baltimore, Columbia, Severn and Annapolis — and as far away as Cresaptown, Eden and Parsonsburg — that they say link those named in the conspiracy to suspected drug-dealing. Intercepted phone calls and surveillance revealed discussions about marijuana and guns, according to federal court documents.

In one instance, authorities said that on Dec. 3, 2010, Aurelio Manny Barahona was caught on a wiretap complaining to Antonio Landers from a house in Severn that another member of the group had “messed up” while committing a robbery for pills.

The intended victim had stolen the man’s phone and Barahona “was considering sending one of his members to assault [Alex] Mendoza.” Barahona was caught on tape 10 minutes later putting the intended target “on the menu,” according to the court documents.

The gang has quarreled with rival organizations and within its ranks, according to officials. At a meeting in Frederick in August 2010, one member was choked until he was unconscious, because he failed to come to the aid of another member who was being pistol-whipped, officials said.

In another instance, court documents recorded a conversation involving efforts to recruit two men to the South Side Brims. The recruits were from a rival faction — the Pasadena Denver Lanes Bloods — and the men were “concerned that it could start a war” if it wasn’t handled properly. That included, the court documents say, having a “round table” discussion involving the leaders, called “hats.”

In addition to search warrants and wiretaps, authorities turned to social media sites such as Facebook in their investigation.

In February, authorities discussed a suspect named Breona Lashay Deshields, known as “Redz,” or the First Lady of Salisbury. A confidential source told authorities, according to the court documents, that Deshields maintained membership lists, participated in meetings, and posted notes on Facebook confirming her allegiance to the gang.

Authorities also say that another member, Sazon Rakil Porter, of Salisbury, posted on Facebook photographs and “identifiers confirming his membership in the South Side Brims.” Those include photos of him with other members at meetings.

Rosenstein said the online postings are a “tremendous tool for us to figure out who they are and what they’re doing.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Hermann contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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