Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
Joint Investigation Dismantles Violent New Haven Street Gang; Members Charged with 6 Murders
New Haven – U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly, ATF Special Agent in Charge Daniel J. Kumor and New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman today announced federal murder, racketeering, firearms, narcotics and money laundering charges against several members and associates of the Red Side Guerilla Brims, a violent New Haven street gang. In 2011 and early 2012, members and associates of the gang are alleged to have committed six murders and four attempted murders.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in January 2014, ATF and the New Haven Police Department began “Operation Red Side” through a series of controlled narcotics purchases and firearms seizures. The investigation revealed that members and associates of the Red Side Guerilla Brims (“RSGB”), a sect of the Bloods street gang based in New Haven, were engaged in narcotics trafficking and related acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assaults and armed robberies. In addition to distributing crack cocaine and other narcotics in and around New Haven, the investigation indicated that members and associates of the RSGB, under the direction of one of its alleged leaders, JEFFREY BENTON, transported crack cocaine and heroin to Bangor, Maine, and sold the drugs in Bangor and its surrounding communities. The RSGB also traded narcotics for firearms, brought the firearms back to New Haven and distributed them to gang members.
“The Red Side Guerilla Brims were a plague on the streets of New Haven,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “This indictment charges six members of this violent New Haven street gang with racketeering to include murders, shootings, armed robberies and assaults, as well as firearms and narcotics offenses. Other Red Side gang members and associates have or are expected to plead guilty to similar charges shortly. We thank our law enforcement partners, particularly the ATF and New Haven Police Department, for their tireless dedication to this long-term investigation. We are confident that these prosecutions targeting our most violent offenders, together with our anti-violence program Project Longevity which calls upon gang members to give up their violent lifestyle, have reduced the number of murders and shootings in New Haven making New Haven a safer and better place to live.”
“Today’s announcement demonstrates ATF’s commitment to working with its federal, state and local law enforcement partners to combat violent gun crime and to dismantle criminal street gangs and their ongoing criminal enterprise,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Kumor. “Moreover, it shows that these criminal street gangs will not get away with such acts of violence, which wreak fear and havoc on the citizens of our communities.”
“Cooperation between all levels of law enforcement and the community are what’s required to achieve progress, and this impressive collaboration between the New Haven Police, ATF, U.S. Attorney’s Office and other valuable partners has solved many violent crimes,” said Chief Esserman. “Too many young men in our community have been lost to gun violence, and too many family members and friends are grieving. Violence in our city will not be tolerated. I’m proud of those who’ve put in the long hours to see this operation through. The City of New Haven is safer for it.”
On February 23, 2011, an individual was shot and wounded in New Haven.
On March 18, 2011, Derrick Suggs was shot and killed in New Haven.
On March 29, 2011, and individual was shot and wounded in New Haven.
On April 20, 2011, Kevin Lee was shot and killed in New Haven.
On June 24, 2011, Donnell Allick was shot and killed in New Haven.
On September 19, 2011, Darrick Cooper was shot and killed in Hamden.
On October 21, 2011, and individual was shot in the face in New Haven.
On December 22, 2011, an individual was shot in the face in New Haven.
On December 23, 2011, Joseph Zargo was shot and killed in New Haven.
On March 19, 2012, Donald Bolden was shot and killed in New Haven.
On December 23, 2014, an individual was assaulted with a firearm in New Haven.
The Connecticut Indictment
On September 30, 2015, a federal grand jury in New Haven returned a 34-count indictment charging the following six individuals with engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, including murder and other violent offenses:
- JEFFREY BENTON, a.k.a. “Tall Man” and “Fresh,” 30, of New Haven
- KEITH YOUNG, a.k.a. “Capo,” “Bapo” and “Poncho,” 25, of Hamden
- ROBERT SHORT, a.k.a. “Santana,” 29, of New Haven
- TREVOR MURPHY, a.k.a. “Snookie,” 27, of West Haven
- ROBERT HARRIS, a.k.a. “Skully Mack,” 19, of New Haven
- CHRISTOPHER GRAHAM, a.k.a. “Ugg,” 28, of New Haven
As alleged in the indictment:
- On February 23, 2011, BENTON and LUIS PADILLA, who is charged separately, conspired to murder an individual.
- On April 20, 2011, BENTON, PADILLA and others, including RODRIGO RAMIREZ and MILES PRICE, who are charged separately, murdered Kevin Lee while attempting to rob marijuana from Lee.
- On June 24, 2011, BENTON, YOUNG, PADILLA and KAVON ROGERS, who is charged separately, murdered Donnell Allick.
- On September 19, 2011, YOUNG and SHORT murdered Darrick Cooper.
- On October 21, 2011, BENTON and HARRY ANDERSON, who is charged separately, conspired to murder an individual.
- On December 23, 2011, MURPHY murdered Joseph Zargo.
- On March 20, 2012, BENTON and another individual, who has since been murdered, murdered Donald Bolden.
- On December 23, 2014, HARRIS and GRAHAM used a firearm to assault an individual
In addition to the racketeering charge, the indictment charges BENTON and YOUNG with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy; BENTON, YOUNG, SHORT and MURPHY with committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering (VCAR) related to one or more of the charged murders; HARRIS and GRAHAM with VCAR related to a charged assault with a dangerous weapon; BENTON, SHORT, MURPHY, HARRIS and GRAHAM with firearms offenses; HARRIS and GRAHAM with narcotics offenses; and BENTON and YOUNG with money laundering offenses related to wire transfers of narcotics proceeds from Maine to Connecticut.
YOUNG and MURPHY were arrested yesterday, and HARRIS was arrested this morning. They appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joan G. Margolis in New Haven and are presently detained.
BENTON has been in federal custody since May 17, 2012, and is serving a 108-month sentence for trafficking narcotics. SHORT is in state custody on a parole violation.
GRAHAM is currently being sought by law enforcement.
As to BENTON, YOUNG, SHORT and MURPHY, if convicted of the charge of VCAR murder, each defendant faces a mandatory term of life imprisonment or death if the government seeks the death penalty in this case. The most serious charge against HARRIS and GRAHAM, brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, carries a mandatory term of imprisonment of seven years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.
Previously-charged RSGB Members and Associates
On September 29, 2015, LUIS PADILLA, a.k.a. “Chewie,” 22, of New Haven, pleaded guilty to engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, VCAR murder, and possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. In pleading guilty, PADILLA admitted his involvement in the murders of Derrick Suggs, Kevin Lee and Donnell Allick, and the attempted murders of two others. PADILLA also admitted his involvement in a home invasion robbery in New Haven in May 2012, as well as his role in the trafficking of narcotics in Connecticut and Maine.
On June 16, 2015, RODRIGO RAMIREZ, a.k.a “Rico,” 34, of New Haven, pleaded guilty to racketeering and admitted his involvement in the murder of Kevin Lee and in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in Maine.
On July 1, 2014, a grand jury returned an indictment charging MILES PRICE, a.k.a. “Molly Rock,” 27, of New Haven, with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of crack cocaine, and possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.
On May 6, 2015, KAVON ROGERS, 28, of New Haven, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.
On May 20, 2015, a grand jury returned an indictment charging HARRY ANDERSON, a.k.a. “Ace,” 22, of New Haven, with one count of VCAR related to the attempted murder of an individual, and one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
On September 8, 2015, DELTON PYLES, a.k.a. “Koolie,” 26, of New Haven, pleaded guilty to attempted assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of crack cocaine.
The Maine Indictment
On February 12, 2015, a grand jury in the District of Maine returned an indictment charging JEFFREY BENTON and ten other individuals, including RSGB members and associates, with offenses related to the distribution of crack cocaine, the illegal purchase of more than 20 firearms, and the transportation of firearms and drug proceeds to Connecticut. BENTON is awaiting trial in Maine.
On July 30, 2015, WILLIE GARVIN, a.k.a. “Tank” and “Black,” 22, of New Haven, pleaded guilty in the District of Connecticut to possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence in relation to the shooting of an individual on December 22, 2011. GARVIN also agreed to have his Maine case transferred to Connecticut and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and conspiracy to violate federal firearms laws.
On September 2, 2015, CHRISTIAN TURNER, a.k.a. “P,” 29, of New Haven, pleaded guilty in the District of Maine to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and conspiracy to violate federal firearms laws.
On August 17, 2015, TORRENCE BENTON a.k.a. “T-Black” and “Scotty,” 28, of New Haven, pleaded guilty in the District of Maine to one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.
U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the New Haven Police Department, the Connecticut Department of Correction, the Connecticut State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Hamden Police Department. The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office also provided critical assistance in the investigation.
An instrumental component of the investigation has been the work of the Connecticut State Crime Laboratory in utilizing the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to analyze ballistics evidence.
These cases are being prosecuted in the District of Connecticut by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert M. Spector and Peter D. Markle. The District of Maine case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey.