For Immediate Release
Eight Members of Cherry Hill Group 'UDH' Plead Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy on the Eve of Trial
In Addition to Narcotics Trafficking, Some of the Defendants Committed Shootings, Murders and Robberies
Baltimore, Maryland – Eight men have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise in connection with their gang activities as members of the UDH organization, which operates in the Cherry Hill section of Baltimore. The following defendants pleaded guilty on April 1 and April 4, 2016, just prior to trial:
Steven Jackson, a/k/a Cutty, age 25, of Baltimore;
Asim Benns, a/k/a Seem, age 33, of Baltimore;
Gregory Sykes-Bey, age 22, of Baltimore;
Elijah Sykes-Bey, a/k/a LaLa, age 21, of Baltimore;
James Scott, a/k/a Mook Day, age 24, of Essex, Maryland;
Michael Smith, a/k/a Lil Mikey, age 23, of Baltimore;
Donte Thornton, a/k/a Tay, age 30, of Baltimore; and
Alonzo Clea, a/k/a Zo, age 26, of Baltimore.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William P. McMullan of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Commissioner Kevin Davis of the Baltimore Police Department; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
"Disputes between rival drug gangs lead to many shootings and murders in Baltimore City," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "Thanks to a lengthy and intensive investigation, we are holding accountable the criminals who turned Cherry Hill into a war zone."
According to their plea agreements, from at least 2007 to 2013, the UDH organization operated in the area of Cherry Hill known as "Up the Hill" or "Up da Hill." UDH members and associates have been in a long-running dispute with members of an organization known as "Coppin Court" that is involved in criminal activity in the part of Cherry Hill known as "Down the Hill," or "Down da Hill," (DDH), and since at least January 2011, have been in a dispute with members of "Little Spelman," another organization that is involved in criminal activity in the DDH section of Cherry Hill. UDH members and associates used violence and intimidation to protect themselves, the organization, and their control of the drug trade in part of Cherry Hill.
The defendants admitted that as members of UDH they were part of a racketeering enterprise and protected their power, territory and profits through the use of violence, threats of violence, intimidation, robbery, and narcotics trafficking.
In addition to selling drugs, UDH members have also committed murders, attempted murders, assaults, carjackings, and robberies. Beginning in 2004, UDH members committed six murders of rival gang members and/or drug dealers, and shot nine other individuals. In addition, the members of UDH committed street and bank robberies in order to fund their narcotics activities.
According to his plea agreement, in addition to being a member of UDH, Asim Benns was also a high ranking member of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF), overseeing the Up the Hill area of Cherry Hill. Benns admitted that he planned and/or participated in the murders of two rival gang members, and two other shootings. Benns ran a heroin shop in the UDH area, as well as distributing other drugs. In July and August of 2011, Benns and other UDH members robbed two banks, stealing a total of $11,100, which he and the other robbers used to buy drugs that they could sell. Thornton participated in one of the bank robberies.
All of the defendants admitted to their participation in the gang’s narcotics trafficking activities. In addition, co-defendant Steven Jackson admitted to the murder of a rival gang member and the shooting of another person. Gregory Sykes-Bey admitted to two shootings and the murder of a rival gang member, and Michael Smith admitted committing the murder of a rival gang member and to possessing a firearm used in that murder and two additional shootings. According to their plea agreements, Elijah Sykes-Bey participated in the murders of two rival gang members, and Donte Thornton participated in a shooting and a murder of a rival gang member.
The defendants and the government have agreed to recommend specific sentences as part of their plea agreements. If the Court accepts the plea agreements Benns be sentenced to between 20 and 25 years; Jackson and Smith will each be sentenced to 25 years; the Sykes-Bey brothers will each be sentenced to 24 years each; Clea will be sentenced to 10 years in prison; Thornton will be sentenced to 15 years in prison; and Scott will be sentenced to10 to 15 years in prison, respectively. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has scheduled sentencing for Jackson and Clea on June 10, 2016; for Elijah Sykes-Bey on June 24, 2016; for Gregory Sykes-Bey on July 9, 2016; for Asim Benns, James Scott and Donte Thornton on July 15, 2016; and for Michael Smith on August 12, 2016.
A total of 35 Cherry Hill gang members have now pleaded guilty. For example, Little Spelman gang member Davon Martin, age 26, admitted to drug dealing and the murders of two UDH gang members and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. UDH member Dominic Evans, a/k/a "FlatLine," age 25, admitted to drug dealing, two stabbings and to his participation in a murder, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the ATF, Baltimore Police Department, and Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Andrea L. Smith, Seema Mittal, and Patricia C. McLane, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.