For Immediate Release
York Gang Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison
HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that the leader of a gang that has operated for a decade or more in the City of York was sentenced to life in prison for racketeering and drug distribution conspiracies.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, U.S. District Court Judge Yvette Kane imposed a sentence of life in prison on Rolando Cruz, Jr., a/k/a “Mico,” age 32, who was identified as a leader of the “Southside” street gang as well as a member of the Bloods. When imposing sentence, Judge Kane noted Cruz’s leadership in the gang that ravaged the community in York for over a decade, causing numerous deaths and many other victims.
At the sentencing, the government presented evidence that Cruz’s gang related activities continued from his jail cell while he awaited sentencing. The government asked for a life sentence and pointed to the evidence that Cruz continued to sell drugs and participate in violent retaliation while in prison. The government argued to court that it should have no confidence that Cruz will ever stop his violent, drug trafficking ways, as demonstrated by his ongoing criminal conduct. Judge Kane noted that there was mitigating evidence but, on balance, agreed that life in prison was the appropriate sentence.
In November 2015, a jury convicted Cruz of racketeering and drug trafficking conspiracies after a seven-week trial. It included over 100 witnesses called by the government, including York City Police officers and detectives, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI and gang members who had previously pleaded guilty and featured the presentation of over 500 exhibits. Among the exhibits were videos of violent incidents involving the Southside Gang, drugs, cash and property seized by police and ATF agents as part of the investigation.
The jury convicted the other 11 men who went to trial with Cruz.
The gang, labeled by the government as a criminal enterprise, is known as Southside. It operated in southern York, centered in the area of Maple and Duke Streets. There was no formal structure but the participants included senior leaders, drug traffickers engaged in distribution and sales of narcotics, particularly crack cocaine, and “shooters,” individuals who committed acts of violence, including use of firearms on behalf of the gang and to protect its members from other gangs in York. Order was maintained through intimidation and threats and, in some cases, murder. The Southside Gang includes a group of violent drug traffickers, originally affiliated with the “Bloods,” primarily a New York-based national violent street gang.
Violence against a rival York gang, called “Parkway,” allegedly resulted in death or shootings of members of both gangs and innocent bystanders.
ATF, together with the York City Police Department and the York County District Attorney’s Office, began an intensive two-year investigation of Southside in 2012. It culminated in a September 2014 grand jury indictment of 21 individuals.
Eight of the indicted persons, including James Abney, a senior Southside leader, pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy charge prior to the trial, as did seven other individuals included in the September 2014 indictment.
Many individual Southside gang members were investigated and previously prosecuted by York County law enforcement agencies on state charges. The federal prosecution aimed at dismantling the organization by exposing and attacking its continuity and leadership. The federal investigation of gang violence and drug dealing in York is continuing in full cooperation with local police and the York County District Attorney’s Office.
Overall, the jury found seven of the 12 men on trial guilty of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute drugs, mainly cocaine base (crack) and cocaine, but including heroin in some instances. Two others were found not guilty of the racketeering charge but were found guilty of the drug distribution conspiracy count of the indictment. Three of the defendants were found not guilty of either of the conspiracy counts. The jury found all 12 defendants guilty of possession of illegal drugs with the intent to distribute. Two defendants were also charged and found guilty of, possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.
The principal defendants, specifically the most violent and those in leading roles, were found guilty of the racketeering conspiracy charges.
The individual defendants and the charges on which they were awaiting sentencing or were sentenced:
Marc Hernandez, a/k/a “Marky D,” age 32; racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking conspiracy, drug possession with intent to deliver and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking (2 counts) is scheduled to be sentenced on October 25, 2017,
Douglas Kelly, a/k/a “Killer,” age 39; racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking conspiracy, and drug possession with intent to deliver is awaiting sentencing,
Roscoe Villega, a/k/a “P Shawn,” age 43; racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking conspiracy, and drug possession with intent to deliver is awaiting sentencing,
Tyree Eatmon, a/k/a “Ree,” age 29; racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking conspiracy, and drug possession with intent to deliver is awaiting sentencing,
Maurice Atkinson, a/k/a “Mo,” age 30; racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking conspiracy, and drug possession with intent to deliver is awaiting sentencing,
Anthony Sistrunk, a/k/a “Kanye,” age 29; racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking conspiracy, and drug possession with intent to deliver is awaiting sentencing,
Eugene Rice, a/k/a “B Mor,” age 29; drug trafficking conspiracy, and drug possession with intent to deliver is awaiting sentencing,
Angel Schueg, a/k/a “Pocko,” age 28; drug trafficking conspiracy, and drug possession with intent to deliver is awaiting sentencing,
Jalik Frederick, a/k/a “Murder Cat,” age 22; drug possession with intent to deliver was sentenced to 33 months in prison on June 5, 2017,
Brandon Orr, a/k/a “B Or,” age 23; drug possession with intent to deliver was sentenced to 34 months in prison on November 10, 2016,
Jabree Williams, a/k/a “Minute,” age 24; drug possession with intent to deliver was sentenced to 60 months in prison on May 15, 2017.
James Abney, a/k/a “Doocs,” age 31.
Malik Sturdivant, a/k/a “Base,” age 25.
Jahkeem Abney, a/k/a “Foo,” age 27.
Ronald Payton, a/k/a “Ron Ron,” age 25.
Cordaress Rogers, a/k/a “Tank,” age 31.
Marquis Williams, a/k/a “Quis,” age 29.
Jerrod Brown, a/k/a “Boogie,” age 28.
Quintez Hall, a/k/a “Q,” age 25.
Richard Nolden, a/k/a “Rich,” age 27.
The case included the participation and assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Pennsylvania State Police, West York Borough Police Department, Spring Garden Township Police Department, the York County Drug Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael A. Consiglio, William Houser, and Joseph Terz prosecuted the case.
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