Indictment Charges Waterbury Gang Members with Murder and Drug Trafficking Offenses
As part of an ongoing investigation into gang-related drug trafficking and related violence in Waterbury, a federal grand jury in Hartford has returned an indictment charging 16 Waterbury gang members with engaging in numerous violent criminal acts, including murder and attempted murder, as well as firearm possession and drug trafficking offenses.
Today’s announcement was made by Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut; Maureen T. Platt, State’s Attorney for the Waterbury Judicial District; Waterbury Police Chief Fernando C. Spagnolo; David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Boston Field Division.
The 36-count indictment, which was returned on September 14, charges
GABRIEL PULLIAM, a.k.a. “G, ” 27
TAHJAY LOVE, a.k.a. “Goon,” 23
ZAEKWON McDANIEL, a.k.a. “Gap” and “Yung Gap,” 23
EZRA ALVES, a.k.a. “EJ” and “Ezzy,” 21
MALIK BAYON, a.k.a. “Pop” and “Dirt,” 25
D’ANDRE BURRUS, a.k.a. “Dopeman,” 27
USTIN CABRERA, a.k.a. “J.U.,” 22
LADERRICK JONES, a.k.a. “Lexus,” 29
JAIVAUN McKNIGHT, a.k.a. “Sav,” 23
JULIAN SCOTT, a.k.a. “Ju Sav,” 22
DAYQUAIN SINISTERRA, a.k.a. “Quan,” 24
AHMED ALVES, a.k.a. “Stones,” 23
ADRIAN FLEMMING, a.k.a. “Big A” and “Goldo,” 26
JAMES GRAHAM, a.k.a. “Little Cuz,” 21
TAVAUGHN WRIGHT, a.k.a. “Teddy,” 27
DIMITRI BLANDING, 23
Pulliam, Love, McDaniel, Ezra Alves, Burrus, Jones, McKnight, Scott, Sinisterra and Graham have been detained in state custody, and Flemming is currently serving a federal sentence for a related drug charge. Bayon, Cabrera, Wright, Blanding, and Ahmed Alves were arrested yesterday. Blanding was released on bond, and Bayon, Cabrera, Wright and Alves are detained pending detention hearings that are scheduled beginning next week.
As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, in an effort to address escalating violence in Waterbury, the FBI, ATF, and Waterbury Police are actively investigating multiple Waterbury-based groups whose members are involved in narcotics trafficking, murder and other acts of violence. The defendants charged in the indictment are members of the 960 gang – an active gang in the Waterbury area.
The indictment alleges that the 960 gang distributed narcotics and engaged in multiple violent acts, including murder, attempted murder and assault, as well as obstruction of justice.
Among the violent acts committed by the defendants, the indictment alleges that:
- On October 31, 2017, Cabrera attempted to murder members of a rival gang, which resulted in gunshot wounds to an individual with the initials J.B.;
- On November 22, 2017, McDaniel, Bayon and Love murdered Clarence Lewis and Antonio Santos;
- On December 29, 2017, McDaniel attempted to murder an individual believed to be related to a rival gang, which resulted in gunshot wounds to an individual with the initials J.S.;
- On September 21, 2018, Sinisterra attempted to murder individuals associated with an individual with the initials H.M. by shooting at an occupied residence on Lounsbury Street in Waterbury;
- On September 21, 2018, Ezra Alves, McKnight and Sinisterra attempted to murder individuals associated with an individual with the initials H.M. by shooting at an occupied residence on Scott Road in Waterbury;
- On October 6, 2018, Ezra Alves, Scott and Sinisterra attempted to murder individuals believed to be members of a rival gang, which resulted in gunshot wounds to an individual with the initials A.R.;
- On October 11, 2018, Pulliam, Scott and Sinisterra, in an attempt to murder individuals believed to be members of a rial gang, murdered Fransua Guzman and injured an individual with the initials D.M.
- On November 1, 2018, Sinisterra attempted to murder H.M., which resulted in gunshot wounds to H.M.
- On November 18, 2018, Ezra Alves, Scott and Sinisterra attempted to murder individuals believed to be members of a rival gang, which resulted in gunshot wounds to individuals with the initials M.A. and J.S.;
- On October 19, 2019, Love and Graham caused bodily injury to an individual with the initials J.A. in an attempt to obstruct the administration of justice.
“As alleged in the indictment and in related prosecutions, members of the 960 gang not only murdered and attempted to murder rival gang members, but also shot and maimed unintended victims whose lives have been forever changed by their reckless behavior,” said U.S. Attorney Boyle. This long-term investigation and prosecution of these 16 defendants represent our commitment to use federal resources to help dismantle violent groups and prosecute those whose drug trafficking and relentless acts of gun violence destroy the communities where they operate. I sincerely thank State’s Attorney Platt for coordinating this prosecution with our office, and Chief Spagnolo and the members of the Waterbury Police Department for their excellent work and close partnership with the FBI and ATF during this investigation.”
“The indictment of 16 members of the 960 gang in Waterbury is a product of the tireless work and collaboration of numerous law enforcement agencies,” said Waterbury State’s Attorney Platt. “Especially today given the recent escalation of gun violence and gang activity, this effort will undoubtedly make the Waterbury community a safer and better place in which to live. The Waterbury State’s Attorney’s office is so proud to be a part of this project, and we would like to extend and thanks and admiration to all those who worked so hard to put this case together, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chief Spagnolo and the Waterbury Police Department, and numerous federal and state law enforcement agencies.”
“The 36-count indictment charging 16 members of the violent Waterbury gang 960 is due in part to the tireless efforts of so many in local and federal law enforcement,” said Chief Spagnolo. “I want to acknowledge our strong partnerships with the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, the Waterbury State’s Attorney and the FBI. Our community is a safer place today because of the diligence displayed by law enforcement officers as well as federal and state prosecutors in this investigation.”
“Today’s arrests are a clear indication to all criminal actors in Waterbury and across Connecticut that we are in the community working around the clock to end senseless violence, reduce fear, and to do our part to improve quality of life,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sundberg.
The indictment charges Pulliam, Love, McDaniel, Ezra Alves, Bayon, Burrus, Jones, McKnight, Scott and Sinisterra with one count of conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years for Pulliam, Ezra Alves, Burrus, Jones, McKnight, Scott and Sinisterra. Because it is alleged that Bayon, McDaniel and Love killed both Clarence Lewis and Antonio Santos in the course of a single transaction, they face a penalty of life imprisonment if convicted of this count.
In addition, McDaniel, Bayon, Love, Pulliam, Scott and Sinisterra are charged with murder in violation of the Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (“VCAR”) statute. This offense carries a mandatory term of imprisonment of life, or death if the government seeks the death penalty in this matter.
Cabrera, McDaniel, Sinisterra, Ezra Alves, McKnight, Scott and Pulliam are charged with multiple counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, attempted murder/aiding and abetting in assault with a dangerous weapon, and attempted murder, all in violation of the VCAR statute. The assault offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and the attempted murder offenses carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. These defendants are also charged with using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, an offense that carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of at least 10 years.
Love and Graham are charged with obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.
Pulliam, Ezra Alves, Bayon, Burrus, Jones, McKnight, Ahmed Alves, Flemming, Wright and Blanding are charged with conspiring to distribute narcotics, including heroin and fentanyl. If convicted on this count they face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years
Finally, the indictment charges Ezra Alves, Bayon and Wright with possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, which carries a mandatory consecutive term of imprisonment of at least five years.
Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force, ATF and Waterbury Police Department, with the assistance of the Watertown Police Department, New Milford Police Department and Connecticut Department of Correction. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Geoffrey M. Stone, John T. Pierpont, Jr. and Natasha M. Freismuth, and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Cynthia S. Serafini and Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Don E. Therkildesen, Jr. of the Waterbury State’s Attorney’s Office, who have been cross-designated as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys in this matter.
This prosecution is a part of the Justice’s Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) 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.
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.