Member of South L.A. Street Gang Pleads Guilty in Federal Racketeering Case, Admitting Drug Dealing and Armed Robberies
LOS ANGELES – A longtime member of the Five Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips (BGC) street gang has pleaded guilty to federal charges and admitted to trafficking in narcotics and participating in a series of armed robberies that targeted bank customers and small businesses.
Akia Pete, also known as “Studda Box,” 35, of Gardena, pleaded guilty on Friday, November 18 to conspiring to violate the federal RICO statute and conspiring to traffic in narcotics.
Pete pleaded guilty before United States District Judge S. James Otero, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on March 13.
Pete was an active participant in the BGC’s drug trafficking activities and worked to help the gang maintain its “territorial monopoly,” according to a plea agreement filed in federal court. Pete also participated in robbery crews that, “armed with firearms, tasers and zip ties, would follow victims home from banks and rob them of their cash,” in one case taking $10,000 in cash from a victim business owner.
Pete also admitted to being a member of the “Baby Gremlins,” a violent enforcement clique within the gang that would “encourage younger members of the BGC to engage in violence against rivals and insubordinate members.”
As a result of last week’s guilty plea, Pete faces a statutory maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison. Pete will also be subject to a mandatory minimum penalty of five years for distributing crack cocaine. After completing his prison term, Pete has agreed to accept a provision of supervised release that will prohibit him from residing in the gang’s claimed South Los Angeles territory.
“Street gangs victimize innocent people, bringing drugs and violence into our communities,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “It is a top priority of my office to pursue prosecutions that remove the leadership of such gangs from the streets and cripple their ability to operate, in order to make our communities safer.”
“The defendant and his co-conspirators targeted residents with intimidation and violence in an area they unlawfully claimed to control,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Field Office. “The FBI will continue to build cases aimed at dismantling criminal enterprises by working with local police to identify the street gangs plaguing Los Angeles communities with violent crime and narcotics trafficking.”
Pete was one of 72 people named in a 112-count indictment targeting the BGC that was unsealed in 2014. The gang, which was formed in the 1970s, allegedly has grown into a violent criminal enterprise that conducts regular meetings, espouses a strict set of rules, and exacts punishments, including death, against those who cooperate with law enforcement.
In addition to committing crimes in its claimed territory east of the Harbor Freeway, the indictment alleges that the Broadway Crips sell drugs near the Skid Row section of downtown Los Angeles. “This area is desirable to the gang because it is close to Skid Row, where there is a large and vulnerable customer base of drug addicts and mentally ill persons,” according to the indictment.
Seventy-one of the defendants named in the indictment have now appeared in federal court to face charges in the indictment (the final defendant is in state custody), which include conspiracy to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), violent crimes in aid of racketeering, a series of robberies that targeted bank customers, weapons offenses and various drug trafficking charges.
With Pete’s guilty pleas last week, over 40 defendants have now been convicted in the case, including the three lead defendants in the RICO case – Tyrine Martinez, Tracy Harris and Roosevelt Sumpter – each of whom pleaded guilty this past summer to federal charges. Earlier this month, Sumpter was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. Martinez and Harris are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Otero on December 19, at which time both defendants will face potential life sentences and mandatory minimum prison terms of 15 and 10 years, respectively.
Three other top defendants in the case are scheduled to go on trial January 3. Other defendants are scheduled to go on trial on December 6 and April 5.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The investigation into the BGC, which was called Operation “Gremlin Riderz,” was conducted by the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department under the auspices of the FBI’s Task Force on Violent Crime in the City of Los Angeles, which is one of several dozen Safe Streets Task Forces around the nation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mack Jenkins of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section, and Assistant United States Attorneys Max B. Shiner and Wilson Park of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.