Federal Indictments Target Street Gang for Alleged Crack Cocaine Distribution and Firearm Offenses at Housing Projects in Watts
LOS ANGELES – Law enforcement this morning arrested 19 defendants, most of whom are members and associates of the Bounty Hunter Bloods (BHB) street gang named in a series of federal grand jury indictments charging them with manufacturing and distributing crack cocaine in and around their “territory” of the Nickerson Gardens public housing projects in the Watts neighborhood of the City of Los Angeles.
The 19 people arrested this morning are among 22 defendants charged in nine indictments unsealed today that allege violations of federal narcotics and firearms laws. The defendants arrested today are expected to be arraigned on the indictments this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
In addition to those arrested during “Operation Loyalty Matters,” one defendant is already in custody on unrelated charges. Authorities are continuing to search for two defendants.
During the investigation, law enforcement seized 26 firearms – including five “ghost guns,” or firearms lacking serial numbers – 1 kilogram of crack cocaine and 12 pounds of methamphetamine.
The case’s main indictment centers on the alleged drug manufacturing and distributing activities of Damion Baker, 43, a.k.a. “Fatts,” and Tony Carr, 49, a.k.a. “T-Bone,” both of whom are documented Watts-based BHB gang members. The 15-count indictment also charges Baker’s alleged network of narcotics suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors.
From August 2019 to May 2020, Baker obtained powder cocaine from suppliers and, along with Carr, manufactured or “cooked” crack cocaine in Nickerson Gardens, then prepared and packaged crack cocaine for other distributors and customers in the housing complex, according to the indictment. The conspirators allegedly collected proceeds from the crack cocaine sales after distributing the drugs to customers via hand-to-hand transactions.
“Because of the highly dangerous and lucrative nature of crack cocaine trafficking, individuals who worked together in the distribution of crack cocaine often had established relationships through their membership or association with the BHB,” the indictment alleges.
Baker, Carr and the indictment’s 10 other defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Baker faces eight additional felony charges in the indictment, while Carr is charged with six additional felonies, including narcotics distribution and firearms-related offenses.
The remaining eight indictments charge an additional 10 defendants with violating federal narcotics and firearms laws.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Fourteen defendants, including all 12 defendants charged in the lead indictment, face potential sentences of life imprisonment if they are convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine, and they potentially face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in federal prison for that offense. Four additional defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of five years in federal prison if convicted of charges of conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of crack cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Today’s arrests were made by the FBI’s Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs, which consists of the FBI, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Assistant United States Attorney Amy E. Pomerantz of the Violent and Organized Crime Section is prosecuting this case.