members of violent southwest philadelphia drug gang Convicted
PHILADELPHIA - A federal jury, today, returned guilty verdicts against seven members of the so-called “Harlem Boys,” a violent drug gang that operated in and around the Bartram Village Housing Development (“BVHD”) in Southwest Philadelphia. The defendants, all from Philadelphia, were part of a conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise. The 89-count indictment against 20 defendants includes charges of attempted murder in aid of racketeering, robbery, carjacking, assault in aid of racketeering, threats in aid of racketeering, numerous substantive drug offenses, and firearms offenses that include use of firearms during the commission of violent crimes and drug crimes. The trial lasted 12 weeks.
The jury found all of the defendants guilty of violating the RICO conspiracy and of conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base. Ramel Moten, 28, participated in the “Harlem Boys” as a supplier and distributor of illegal narcotics and as a lead gunman for the enterprise. Moten frequently provided firearms to other “Harlem Boys” for use in robberies. Reginald Stephens, 34, was a distributor of illegal narcotics and a gunman for the enterprise, as were Bryan Hill, 27, Warren Stokes, 28, Hikeem Torrence, 20, and Merrell Hobbs, 24. Khalil Allen, 34, was a distributor of illegal narcotics for the enterprise.
Moten faces a mandatory minimum term of 100 years in prison; the remaining defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years with a maximum possible sentence of life. All other defendants in the case pleaded guilty.
“The convictions in this case should send a strong message to the violent drug gangs operating in this district,” said Memeger. “We will do everything in our power to dismantle these organizations and restore some quality of life to the citizens of the neighborhoods where they operate. The defendants in this case are now exposed to very long prison terms and should be asking themselves whether their criminal lifestyle was worth the trade in years.”
“The guilty verdicts returned today are a clear signal to any street gang, like the Young Hit Men, that firearms violence will not be tolerated in the City of Philadelphia,” said ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Sheree L. Mixell. “ATF remains steadfast in our mission to investigate violent crime, to apply laws with significant penalties, like the RICO statute; ensuring that violent street gangs are dismantled and its members are held accountable for their actions, allowing for a better quality of life in our neighborhoods.”
Terrance Hamm was running the violent drug operation in 2001 using the names “Harlem Boys,” “Young Hit Men,” and “54.” The gang members and their associates committed acts of violence and attempted or threatened to commit acts of violence, including murder and robbery, in order to protect and expand the criminal enterprise, and to promote a climate of fear through violence and intimidation.
Much of the violence was directed at outsiders who entered or attempted to enter the BVHD without the gang’s consent. For example, when defendants Omar Roane and Merrell Hobbs encountered victim K.S. on August 10, 2006, Roane and Hobbs carjacked K.S.’s vehicle at gunpoint, stole the car keys, and then fired shots at K.S. and others as they drove away in the carjacked vehicle. The defendants also committed acts of violence against persons whom they believed might be trying to sell controlled substances within the BVHD. For example, on February 27, 2007, defendant Terrance Hamm took a cash payment for crack cocaine, then refused to deliver the drugs and threatened to shoot the individual who supplied the cash when he attempted to get the money back.
After a member would identify a target, the group would frequently rob that victim and then share in the profits. Members traded guns among themselves to use during violent crimes and when selling controlled substances for the “Harlem Boys.” The members of the gang distributed crack cocaine, marijuana, and prescription medications, such as Xanax, at times near the Richard Allen Preparatory School, as well as on or near the playground and basketball courts within the BVHD. The Harlem Boys and their associates used apartments, including those rented by Melika Parker and Roneisha Scott, inside the BVHD, to stash and cook cocaine base (“crack”) and firearms, and as sales locations for controlled substances.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Philadelphia Police Department, it is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Salvatore L. Astolfi and Katyoun Copeland.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
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