Charges Filed Against Nine Members of Kensington Area “TRUHITTAZ” Drug Trafficking Group
PHILADELPHIA – A 44-count Second Superseding Indictment, unsealed today, charges nine people with conspiring to distribute phencyclidine (“PCP”) and cocaine base (“crack”) in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, announced United States Attorney William M. McSwain.
Charged are: James Grimes, a/k/a “Speedy,” “Dink,” “HM,” 27, Hassain Griffin, a/k/a “Glizzy,” “Frizzy,” “ODOG,” “GlizzytheHitta,” 23, Andrew Gault, a/k/a “Fly,” “Butterknife King,” “BKK,” 26, Katina Grimes, a/k/a “Snoop,” “SnoopdaHitta,” 29, Tyreeq Lenair, a/k/a “Bear,” 26, Quran Justice, a/k/a “Skee,” 21, Wayne Brunson, a/k/a “Weez,” 23, Unterrio Parris, a/k/a “Dudda,” “Didda,” 24, Anthony Hill, a/k/a “Turk,” “Turt,” 27, all living in Philadelphia.
In addition to the conspiracy count, the defendants are charged in multiple counts of distribution of phencyclidine, distribution of cocaine base, possession with the intent to distribute phencyclidine, possession with the intent to distribute cocaine base, distribution of controlled substances within 1000 feet of a school, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances within 1000 feet of a school, maintaining a drug house, unlawful use of a communication facility in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, use and carrying of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (see attached chart).
“This was an organized, methodical and violent group of drug dealers who used force to protect their business and their turf,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “This organization and others like it effectively hold neighborhoods hostage. If law abiding citizens are going to live without fear, we have to do everything possible to shut these organizations down.”
According to the Second Superseding Indictment, the conspiracy existed from approximately June 2014 to November 2016. Defendants James Grimes and Hassain Griffin led and organized the drug trafficking group that referred to itself as the “TruHittaz” (hereinafter, “the TruHittaz DTG”). The TruHittaz DTG conducted their drug trafficking activities on and around the 700 and 800 blocks of East Willard and East Madison Streets in Philadelphia, PA. The TruHittaz DTG obtained quantities of phencyclidine, cocaine base, heroin, marijuana, and other controlled substances from suppliers, both outside and within the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The TruHittaz DTG then distributed in excess of 1 kilogram of phencyclidine, 280 grams of cocaine base, and quantities of heroin, marijuana, and other controlled substances in and around their drug territory.
"This investigation is an example of ATF’s dedication to working with our state, local and federal partners in identifying, targeting, and investigating violent criminals who are involved in selling narcotics and firearms. These offenders prey upon innocent citizens and lessen the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson. “Our neighborhoods deserve to exist without fear and intimidation inflicted by these violent gangs. These arrests should significantly impact the violent drug related violence that has wreaked havoc throughout Philadelphia.”
The TruHittaz DTG separated and packaged bulk quantities of liquid phencyclidine and cocaine base into different distribution quantities, and then distributed and sold the drugs to customers in and around their drug territory. A large part of the area in which the TruHittaz distributed and possessed with the intent to distribute drugs was located within 1,000 feet of several area schools.
The TruHittaz DTG classified themselves and each other as “bosses” or “shot callers,” “caseworkers,” “trappers,” and “lookouts,” delineating their role(s) in the organization. “Lookouts” watched for and alerted other members of the TruHittaz DTG to the presence of law enforcement in the area. “Trappers” sold drugs on the block, and “caseworkers” oversaw and supervised those sales. The “bosses” (also referred to as “shot callers” and “top callers”) of the TruHittaz DTG supplied controlled substances to the block and set the prices of, and received payments for, the controlled substances sold on the block. The TruHittaz DTG sold drugs in and around their drug territory 7 days a week and 24 hours per day. The TruHittaz DTG divided drug sales into day and night shifts, with the day shift running approximately 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and the night shift running from 10:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. The TruHittaz DTG staffed these shifts with lookouts, one to two caseworkers, and at least two trappers –one of whom sold phencyclidine and the other of whom sold cocaine base. When one member of the TruHittaz DTG – at any level of the group – was unavailable, another member stepped into that role.
Members of the TruHittaz DTG had specific hand signals and logos to denote their membership in the TruHittaz including a hand signal that formed an “H” for “Hittaz.” Members of the TruHittaz DTG used coded language to refer to the type and amount of phencyclidine, cocaine base, and other controlled substances for sale, such as, “hard” and “the ball game” (to refer to crack), “dime” and “basketball” (to refer to a packet/bundle of crack), “oranges” (to refer to larger quantities of crack) “dippers” or “dips” (to refer to cigarettes dipped in liquid PCP), “wet,” and “water” (to refer to liquid PCP), “fat bitches,” “a hizzy,” and a “soda” (to refer to various quantities of liquid PCP), “soccer balls” (to refer to marijuana), and “footballs” (to refer to heroin). Members of the TruHittaz DTG also used the phrases “the jungle” and “the block” to refer to their territory at or around the 700 and 800 blocks of East Willard and East Madison Streets and the term “trapping” to refer to selling controlled substances. The TruHittaz also used coded language to warn each other of the presence of law enforcement, such as, “Mayback” to refer to the presence of police officers in vehicles, “Rollers” to refer to the presence of police officers on bicycles, and “Phantoms” to refer to the presence of police officers on foot.
Members of the TruHittaz DTG tried to get customers to buy from them individually, and sold drugs in concert with each other, with members providing Adippers@ B cigarettes dipped in liquid phencyclidine and small bags of crack cocaine that were sold for $10 with increased dollar value correlating to an increased quantity of drugs. Members of the TruHittaz DTG also sold controlled substances in larger amounts, including a half-ounce, an ounce, and up to sixteen ounces of PCP and/or ounce or bulk quantities of crack cocaine. When multiple members sold drugs in concert with each other, each participating member received a portion of the profits from the sale relative to his/her contribution. Individuals acting as “lookouts” for the TruHittaz DTG also received a portion of the profits of drug sales for the shift worked by the lookout. All members of the TruHittaz DTG, regardless of their role at a given time, were paid in proportion to the amount of drugs sold on a given shift, so that the higher the quantity of drugs sold, the higher the profit each member received.
The TruHittaz DTG used residences in Philadelphia as “stash houses” and “trap houses” to store and package bulk quantities of PCP, crack cocaine, and other controlled substances for distribution and to collect and store the proceeds from their drug sales. These houses included 7606 Castor Avenue, Apartment B (also referred to as “the AP”), 763 East Willard Street, 744 East Madison Street, 755 East Madison Street (also referred to as “the trap house”), 810 East Willard Street, as well as vacant lots on both 800 East Willard and East Madison Streets, and abandoned properties.
The TruHittaz DTG used several vehicles to transport controlled substances to the block, to store controlled substances for the block, to transport controlled substances to drug customers at various locations, and to pick up proceeds of drug sales. These vehicles included: a black GMC Yukon Denali; a dark blue Dodge Charger; a maroon Pontiac Montana van; a silver Lincoln MKS; and a silver Chrysler 300.
Members of the TruHittaz DTG did not permit non-DTG members to sell drugs in their territory. To protect their territory, drug trafficking activities, drug customers, and drug proceeds, members of the TruHittaz DTG purchased, routinely carried, and sometimes used loaded firearms, and also kept firearms in hidden locations, including the “stash” house at 744 East Madison Street and at or around vacant lots at both 800 East Willard and East Madison Streets. Members of the TruHittaz DTG referred to these firearms as “gats,” “ratchets,” “tools,” and/or “block guns.” Members of the TruHittaz DTG used juveniles, to carry firearms and sell controlled substances to customers of the TruHittaz DTG. The “bosses” and “upper management” of the TruHittaz DTG threatened and/or used force against other TruHittaz members and “taxed” other members (by requiring them to pay money to the bosses and upper management) to ensure the quality of the drugs sold on the block and/or that drug sales were conducted in accordance with their wishes.
Members of the TruHittaz DTG routinely warned each other of the presence of law enforcement in the area and used counter-surveillance tactics to prevent detection of their drug trafficking activities by law enforcement. Members of the TruHittaz DTG used cellular telephones (“main phones”), disposable telephones (“burners” or “burner phones”), and social media to arrange for and facilitate the distribution and purchase of phencyclidine, cocaine base, and other controlled substances, and discarded or otherwise changed their burner phones every fourteen-to-thirty days to avoid detection by law enforcement.
If convicted of all counts, each defendant faces lengthy prison terms (see chart).
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Philadelphia Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys MaryTeresa Soltis and Kelly A. Lewis Fallenstein.