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Press Release

Ten Drug Dealers From Mill Creek Section of West Philadelphia Sentenced for Years’ Long Distribution Conspiracy and Violent Turf War

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that several defendants were sentenced by the Honorable Juan R. Sanchez for their involvement in a years’ long drug distribution conspiracy and related crimes, the last of whom, Bryant Calloway, was sentenced today to lifetime imprisonment.

From about 2010 until about May 7, 2015, a group of individuals sold crack cocaine at all times of day and night on a public playground located at the intersection of 52nd and Westminster Streets, in West Philadelphia, and on its surrounding streets known collectively as “the Grounds.” “The Grounds” drug distribution group relied on a number of street level sellers who were supplied by Frederick Porter. Porter, in turn, purchased cocaine and crack cocaine from Robert Mack, the ultimate supplier for “the Grounds” group. Meanwhile, mere blocks away, a rival drug distribution group also sold crack cocaine, at all times of day and night, out of another neighborhood public playground, called “the Pit,” located near to the intersection of  51st and Funston Streets, also in West Philadelphia. “The Pit” group was led by Sean Gilliam, who supplied the street level drug dealers.

Both groups were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) after a series of shootings, over drug turf, that occurred between the rival groups in 2013. The shootings began on August 5, 2013, when Bryant Calloway, a member of “the Pit” drug group, shot and killed Brian Littles, a seller for “the Grounds” group, in an effort to expand “the Pit’s” drug territory. In retaliation for Littles’ murder, Calloway was shot several times by James Wilson, a member of “the Grounds.”  Then, in response to Calloway being shot, Sean Wilson, a member of “the Pit,” went to “the Grounds” area and shot an innocent bystander that he believed, wrongly, was responsible for Calloway’s shooting. The ATF investigation resulted in the defendants being charged for their involvement in drug distribution, firearms offenses, shootings, and murder. All charged defendants, from each group, were convicted by either guilty plea or jury verdict and have now been sentenced.

The defendants associated with “the Grounds” are:

  • Robert Mack, a/k/a “Tweet,” age 53, sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment;
  • Kenneth Riley, a/k/a “Kenny,” age 26, sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment;
  • James Wilson, a/k/a “J.T.,” age 28, sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment;
  • Mark Samuel, age 28, sentenced to 6 ½ years’ imprisonment; and
  • Xavier Towel, a/k/a “Zay,” age 26, sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment.

The defendants associated with “the Pit” are:

  • Bryant Calloway, a/k/a “Bigs,” age 32, sentenced to lifetime imprisonment;
  • Sean Gilliam, a/k/a “Shizzy Ones,” age 42, sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment;
  • Sean Wilson, a/k/a “Lil Shizz,” age 26, sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment;
  • Tonie Henderson, a/k/a “Tone,” age 29, sentenced to 12 ½ years’ imprisonment; and
  • Tyree Johnson, a/k/a “Riq,” age 43, sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment.

“These two violent drug gangs wreaked havoc in this West Philadelphia neighborhood, terrorizing the people living there,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “When we see concentrated violence like this, it is often the case that a small group of people is causing the destruction. These perpetrators need to be arrested, charged and aggressively prosecuted in order to protect those who are trying to live peacefully and to deter others from similar lawlessness. All of these criminals will now be serving lengthy sentences in federal prison – which is where they belong.”

“A key component of ATF’s mission is to combat and reduce violent crime. The sentence that was handed down today is another victory in the battle against violent crime for ATF, our law enforcement partners, and more importantly, the citizens of Philadelphia,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson.  “This sentence is a perfect example of the collaborative effort between the ATF, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Philadelphia Police Department to target violent offenders that are responsible for drug trafficking and related gun violence in our communities.”

“The investigation, arrests, and successful prosecution of the members of these two dangerous rival groups serve as evidence of the merits of sustained collaboration between law enforcement agencies. We expect the attendant sentencings to have an appreciable impact on the safety and quality of life for the residents of the Mill Creek community,” said Acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter.

The case was investigated by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan B. Ortiz and Seth Schlessinger.


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Updated January 6, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime