ASANTE GAINES, also known as “Santi,” 24, of Bridgeport, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to racketeering and attempted murder offenses stemming from his participation in a Bridgeport gang.
Today’s announcement was made by Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut; Joseph T. Corradino, State’s Attorney for the Fairfield Judicial District; Bridgeport Acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia; James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Boston Field Division; David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, and Acting U.S. Marshal Lawrence Bobnick.
According to court documents and statements made in court, the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service and Bridgeport Police have been investigating multiple Bridgeport-based gangs whose members are involved in narcotics trafficking, murder and other acts of violence. Gaines has been a member of the “Greene Homes Boyz” (“GHB/Hotz”), a gang based in the Charles F. Greene Homes Housing Complex in Bridgeport’s North End, whose members and associates distributed heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana and Percocet pills; committed numerous acts of violence against rival gang members and other individuals, and celebrated their criminal conduct on social media websites such as Facebook and YouTube. GHB/Hotz members and associates also committed acts of intimidation and made threats to deter potential witnesses to their crimes and to protect gang members and associates from detection and prosecution by law enforcement authorities. From approximately 2017 until August 2020, GHB/Hotz members were aligned with members of the “Original North End” (“O.N.E.”), a gang based in the Trumbull Gardens area of Bridgeport, against rival groups in Bridgeport, including the East End, East Side and PT Barnum gangs, as well as 150, which is a geographic gang based on the West Side of Bridgeport.
In pleading guilty, Gaines admitted that he participated in gang-related drug trafficking, and helped plan the retaliation shootings of members of opposition gangs. On January 27, 2020, he assisted GHB/Hotz and O.N.E. members who attempted to kill East End gang members and associates in a brazen afternoon shooting in front of a Bridgeport courthouse. At 12:11 p.m. on that date, Bridgeport Police responded to the area of 172 Golden Hill Street in Bridgeport after a Shot Spotter activation detected approximately 20 shots being fired in front of the state courthouse located there. Upon arrival, investigators discovered that four victims had been shot while sitting inside a black Chevrolet Impala. One victim was shot in the side of his chest and was left paralyzed and a second victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds to his back, shoulder and wrist. The victims’ vehicle had approximately 23 entry bullet holes in the driver’s side and windshield area.
Gaines pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity, and one count of attempted murder and aiding and abetting, in violation of the Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (“VCAR”) statute. Judge Arterton scheduled sentencing for February 7, 2022, at which time Gaines faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years.
Gaines is detained.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by ATF, the FBI’s Safe Streets and Violent Crimes Task Forces, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, Bridgeport Police Department, Connecticut State Police and the Bridgeport State’s Attorney’s Office, with the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory and the Naugatuck Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Jocelyn C. Kaoutzanis, Rahul Kale, Peter D. Markle, Karen L. Peck and Stephanie T. Levick.
This prosecution is a part of the Justice’s Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), Project Longevity and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) programs.
PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
Project Longevity is a comprehensive initiative to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities. Through Project Longevity, community members and law enforcement directly engage with members of groups that are prone to commit violence and deliver a community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it. If a group member elects to engage in gun violence, the focused attention of federal, state and local law enforcement will be directed at that entire group.
OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations through a prosecutor-led and intelligence-driven approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.