For Immediate Release
Cherry Hill Hillside Gang Member Sentenced to 23 Years in Federal Prison for Racketeering Conspiracy Charges, Including the Murder of an Innocent Bystander and Two Attempted Murders
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III today sentenced Keenan Lawson, a/k/a BlackFace, age 27, of Baltimore, to 23 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise related to his activities as a member of the violent Hillside gang that operated in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore. Lawson admitted to participating in the murder of an innocent bystander, two attempted murders, and the distribution of narcotics.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby.
“Keenan Lawson and his fellow gang members brought terror and death to Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood with guns and drugs. Federal, state, and local law enforcement are committed to working together to bring to justice those responsible for the most violence in Baltimore City,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “Lawson was personally responsible for two shootings and for the murder of an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire and now faces 23 years in federal prison, where there is no parole—ever. I urge anyone who’s thinking of following these defendants’ example: Please, put down the guns and save a life—maybe even your own.”
According to his plea agreement, Lawson was a member of the Hillside Enterprise, which he knew distributed powder and crack cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, and marijuana, primarily in the Cherry Hill Shopping Center, in other locations throughout Cherry Hill, and in west and southwest Baltimore City. The members of the Hillside Enterprise used the proceeds of their narcotics sales to purchase firearms, to enrich themselves, and to further the activities of the organization, including narcotics trafficking. Hillside members used residences in and around Cherry Hill to cut and package drugs for distribution, primarily heroin, powder cocaine, and crack. These locations included a house at 453 Roundview Road and an apartment at 2300 Terra Firma Road in Cherry Hill. Only trusted members of the Hillside Enterprise were admitted to these locations while the drugs were being prepared for sale. In an effort to distinguish their narcotics, members used colored topped vials or colored the drugs with food coloring. Lawson admitted that he distributed drugs as a member of Hillside, and on behalf of the gang and is also captured on video in the stash houses on at least 17 occasions between November 2014 and September 2015, preparing controlled substances for distribution.
Members of the Hillside Enterprise routinely carried firearms and committed acts of violence in furtherance of the organization’s activities, including robberies, shootings, beatings, murders, and other violence in order to intimidate others who would interfere with their narcotics trafficking. Acts of violence were also committed to discipline members within the Hillside Enterprise for transgressions, real or perceived, against the conspiracy.
Hillside members and associates have been in a long-running dispute with persons not part of the gang, including Up Da Hill (“UDH”), the Lakebrook Circle Boys, and others. Members and associates of Hillside have routinely engaged in acts of violence, including murder, directed at members of these rival organizations, or persons who happen to be located on territory controlled by these rival organizations. The defendants all knew that these acts of violence, including the homicides, were committed by Hillside members and associates, including murders and shootings. For example, Keenan Lawson admitted that he participated in two shootings of individuals whom he and his fellow Hillside members believed to be rival gang members, as well as the murder of an innocent bystander who was shot in the cross fire.
Nineteen Hillside gang members have pleaded guilty to their participation in the racketeering conspiracy. Of those, 18 defendants, including Keenan Lawson, have been sentenced to between 10 and 30 years in federal prison.
According to the ATF, a reward of $10,000 is available for information leading to the arrest of the final defendant in this case, fugitive Deaven Raeshawn Cherry, a/k/a Gotti, age 32, of Baltimore, who is charged federally with drug and racketeering conspiracies, including murders. Cherry is actively being sought by ATF Baltimore Special Agents and the U.S. Marshals Service. He should be considered armed and dangerous. Law enforcement believes that Cherry is likely still in the counties near Baltimore City, if not within the city itself. Anyone with information should contact ATF at (888) ATF-TIPS, ATFtips@atf.gov, text “ATFBAL” to 63975, or contact ATF via the mobile reportit® app.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the ATF, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia C. McLane and Michael C. Hanlon, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.
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