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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

36 South Charles Street
4th Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

(410) 209-4800

TTY/TDD: (410) 962-4462

(410) 209-4885

Fax: (410) 962-3091

For Immediate Release

May 28, 2009

Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney

Contacts: Vickie E. LeDuc, Assistant United States Attorney

Marcia Murphy

(410) 209-4885

42 Defendants, Including Alleged PDL Bloods Gang Members and Associates, Indicted on Federal Racketeering and Drug Conspiracy Charges

23 Alleged PDL Bloods Gang Members and 11 Associates Charged in “Operation Tourniquet”
Related Indictment Charges Alleged Gang Member and 8 Other Associates with Drug Conspiracy

Baltimore, Maryland — A federal grand jury has indicted 23 alleged members of the Pasadena Denver Lanes Bloods gang (PDL Bloods) on federal racketeering charges and charged 11 additional defendants in the same indictment with conspiracy to distribute drugs. A separate indictment charges one of the alleged PDL Bloods members and 8 additional defendants with drug conspiracy, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy. The indictments of all 42 defendants were returned under seal on May 26, 2009, and unsealed today, after hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers joined this morning to execute 50 state and federal search warrants and make arrests. Twelve of the defendants already were in custody. This indictment resulted from a joint investigation led by the ATF, the Baltimore Police Department, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office.

“We believe that a series of federal racketeering and conspiracy prosecutions that result in lengthy prison terms for many leaders and key members of dangerous gangs will reduce violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “This case is yet another demonstration of the impact of proactive investigations that combine the resources and intelligence of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. The indictment alleges that the PDL Bloods gang operates in Maryland as an organized criminal enterprise with leaders and followers who commit violent crimes, sell illegal drugs and pay dues to gang leaders in California.”

“Today’s coast-to-coast operation dismantled several gang sets whose members promoted violence to secure the sanctity of their organization in Baltimore -- while being directed by Bloods leadership in California,” said ATF Acting Assistant Director Mark Chait. “If you use a gun to murder, rob or intimidate another person, in the name of loyalty to the gang, ATF and its law enforcement partners will shine the light of justice on your criminal actions.”

“While gang activity is not new to Baltimore, what is new is the increasing level of violence these gangs bring upon one another, often terrorizing within the same gang and among gang sets. This violence spills over and impacts public safety in our city,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy. “These gangs are brazen and threaten law-abiding citizens with their illegal activity. They are waging war against one another for control of illegal drug trafficking enterprises. I thank our local, state and federal partners as we continue our efforts to rid Baltimore of violence.”

The indictment alleges that 23 of the defendants were members of PDL Bloods, a violent gang with members operating in Baltimore and other parts of Maryland. PDL Bloods originated from a street gang known as “the Bloods” that was formed in Los Angeles, California in the early 1970s. As time passed, the Bloods spread to other locations and broke into individual “sets.” One such Bloods set based in southern California was called Pasadena Denver Lanes. PDL in the Baltimore City area allegedly includes several subsets: the “Low End Lanes,” operating primarily in northeast Baltimore; the “Devil Lanes,” operating primarily in east Baltimore; and “East Side PDL,” operating primarily in south Baltimore and west Baltimore.

The indictment charges that the PDL Bloods gang members conspired to engage in criminal activity, including attempted murders, assaults, robberies and drug trafficking, from at least January 2008 to the present.

The indictment alleges that gang members were required to complete an initiation process that sometimes involved “missions,” which refer to violent acts such as robberies, assaults or carjackings. The initiation process also involved being “jumped in” through a beating by other gang members. PDL members were required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and advance in the gang leadership.

The indictment sets out in detail numerous acts allegedly taken by gang members in furtherance of their racketeering scheme. For example, the indictment alleges that PDL members were overheard discussing plans to murder others in retaliation for robbery, for not following the rules of the PDL organization, for failure to pay PDL dues, or for joining a rival gang.

On January 25, 2009, the indictment alleges that Emiliano Aguas told Antonio White that he would “hit individuals with a bat to get them to see straight in the Blood life” and that some PDL members did not want to attend gang functions because they were afraid of being “whacked.” White asked Aguas why he killed so many people and Aguas allegedly replied, “people got to die that’s what it is.”

On December 23, 2008, Aguas allegedly listened over the phone as PDL members physically assaulted one of their members for violating PDL rules. On January 16, 2009, Aguas allegedly ordered PDL members to assault or kill Angel Johnson for taking a cable box from his home without his permission. Johnson avoided the assault after being warned by PDL member Ernestine Cotten. In retaliation for the warning, Aguas allegedly ordered PDL members to assault Cotten, who later was hospitalized with serious injuries, including internal bleeding and broken bones.

On April 29, 2009, PDL member Frank Williams allegedly was violently beaten by multiple gang members for taking too much time to carry out PDL orders. Williams allegedly recruited another individual to retaliate against Aguas, with instructions not to shoot through a door but to “get up close and personal.”

The indictment alleges that Aguas was warned by a Bloods leader from California that PDL members were being tracked on MySpace and that they should stay off the internet.

The indictment alleges that drugs were shipped from Bloods members in California to Maryland for distribution and that Aguas sent money to California PDL leaders as payment of gang membership dues.

Cell phone conversations between PDL members in and out of jail were monitored by law enforcement. PDL members allegedly discussed sending money obtained from drug proceeds to incarcerated PDL members for attorney fees and to purchase minutes for contraband cell phones used by incarcerated PDL members. Gang members were allegedly overheard discussing plans to smuggle contraband to inmates in jail.

The indictment also alleges that the defendants held numerous conversations in which they discussed distributing cocaine, cocaine base, heroin and marijuana; obtaining guns for use in planned murders and drug distributions; and committing robberies to pay PDL dues.

The following 23 defendants are charged in the indictment with conspiracy to participate in the racketeering activities of the PDL Bloods:

  • Terrence Richardson, age 29, of Baltimore;
  • Emiliano Aguas, age 32, of Baltimore;
  • Frank Williams, age 25, of Baltimore;
  • Demetrice Grimes, age 26, of Dundalk;
  • Derrick Truesdale, age 33, of Baltimore;
  • Antoine Reed, Jr., age 29, of Gwynn Oak;
  • Jasmine Monique Sykes, age 19, Woodlawn;
  • Nicola Bright, age 24, of Baltimore;
  • Christopher Harris, age 23, of Reisterstown;
  • Avon Banks, age 22, of Baltimore;
  • Ronald Elzey, age 28, of Baltimore;
  • Angel Johnson, age 21, of Baltimore;
  • Ernestine Cotten, age 26, of Baltimore;
  • Larry Mitchell, age 25, of Dundalk;
  • Derek Livingston, age 21, of Baltimore;
  • Antonio White, age 25, of Baltimore;
  • James Mccuin, age 31, of Apple Valley, California;
  • Marcus Brooks, age 33, of Lancaster, California;
  • Quincy Williams, age 20, of Brooklyn, Maryland;
  • Richard Waters, age 23, of Baltimore;
  • Carlene Webster, age 24, of Baltimore;
  • Russell Jones, age 25, of Baltimore;
  • Antoine Davis, age 25, of Baltimore.

In addition to the above defendants, the following 11 defendants are charged in the indictment with conspiracy to distribute drugs:

  • Tyrone Dubose, age 31, of Baltimore;
  • Kevin Van White, age 29, of Joppa;
  • Gregory Saulsbury, age 46, of Baltimore;
  • Antoine Carter, age 48, of Baltimore;
  • Eric Richardson, age 45, of Baltimore;
  • Marquis Richardson, age 20, of Baltimore;
  • Teresa Jessup, age 34, of Brooklyn, Maryland;
  • Dana Thornton, age 37, of Baltimore;
  • Gary Knight, age 18, of Baltimore;
  • Deandre White, age 36, of Baltimore;
  • Danielle Johnson, age 28, of Baltimore.

Each of the 34 defendants charged in count two with the drug trafficking conspiracy faces a maximum sentence of life in prison; and each of the 23 defendants charged in count one with the RICO conspiracy faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

In a separate indictment also returned on May 26, 2009 and unsealed today, one of the allege PDL Bloods gang members, Derrick Truesdale, was charged along with eight additional defendants on charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin. Defendants in the second indictment are:

  • Jack Harris, age 25, of Baltimore;
  • Tremayne Jones, age 21, of Baltimore;
  • Shennard Owens, age 28, of Baltimore;
  • Jerrell Ray, age 19, of Baltimore;
  • Derrick Truesdale, age 33, of Baltimore;
  • Tarus Wiggins, age 41, of Baltimore;
  • Michael Jones, age 19, of Baltimore;
  • Juan Hill, age 18, of Baltimore.

Each of the nine defendants in the second indictment faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison.

Initial appearances for many of the defendants are taking place today in federal court in Baltimore.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rosenstein and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Jessamy commended the hundreds of federal and state law enforcement officers led by the ATF’s Violent Crime Impact Teams who worked together to execute the search and arrest warrants today, and thanked the ATF Los Angeles Field Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California for their assistance in obtaining the warrants and arresting the defendants in that district. Mr. Rosenstein and Mrs. Jessamy praised the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Baltimore City Police Department, for their investigation of this case.

The prosecutors expressed their appreciation to Secretary Gary D. Maynard and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for their assistance in the investigation.

Mr. Rosenstein and Mrs. Jessamy also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney George Hazel and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Robinson, a cross-designated Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorney assigned to EXILE cases, who are prosecuting the first case, and Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorneys Staci Pipkin and Brandis Marsh, who assisted in the prosecution; and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Siemek, a cross-designated Baltimore City Assistant State’s Attorney assigned to federal narcotics cases, who is prosecuting the second case.

Read the Remarks by Acting Assistant Director Mark Chait