Fifteen Alleged Members and Associates of Baltimore “Triple C” Gang Facing Federal Indictment on Charges Related to Their Participation in Drug Distribution and/or Racketeering Conspiracies, Including 18 Murders and 27 Attempted Murders
Indictment Alleges that the Members and Associates of Triple C Committed 18 Murders, 27 Attempted Murders, Carjackings, Robberies, Assaults, Engaged in Witness Intimidation, and Ran Street-Level Drug Distribution “Shops” in East and Northeast Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned a second superseding indictment that charges a total of 15 Baltimore defendants for their participating in violent racketeering and/or drug conspiracies. Eleven of the defendants, including seven new defendants, are charged with participating in a racketeering conspiracy that allegedly resulted in 18 murders, more than 27 attempted murders, carjackings, robberies, assaults, and witness intimidation that occurred between 2015 and November 2020. The second superseding indictment was returned on May 27, 2021 and unsealed late yesterday. Today’s announcement is the first public release related to the investigation and prosecution of members of the Triple C gang.
More than 50 law enforcement officers participated in the arrests of the three new defendants and the execution of three search warrants on June 2, 2021. The other four new defendants are already in federal custody on other charges.
The second superseding indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner stated, “This violent street gang committed more than 40 homicides and attempted murders in total. This is not about numbers – each of those shootings represents a victim whose family will never see again, or a survivor of a non-fatal shooting who will never be the same. We are determined to root out the sources of violence from our neighborhoods and will continue to work with ATF, BPD and our other law enforcement partners to reduce violent crime and deadly drug dealing and hold accountable those who bring them to our streets.”
“These indictments are the result of relentless investigative efforts between ATF and our law enforcement partners, utilizing crime gun intelligence resources to connect the dots between the many incidents of violence,” said ATF Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Tim Jones. “ATF remains committed in our mission to identify offenders in Baltimore City who are committing murders, shooting, and violence, preventing citizens from living in safe communities.”
“This indictment represents the hard work of the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department, and our federal partners in holding criminals accountable for the violence in our city. We will continue to work collaboratively in going after individuals who are committing acts of violence, bringing drugs and guns into our neighborhoods and intimating the citizens of Baltimore.”
The following defendants, all from Baltimore, are charged in the second superseding indictment:
Desmond Butler, a/k/a Dez, age 23;
Darell Carter, a/k/a Black Ice, age 24;
Correy Cawthorn, a/k/a Fat Correy, age 22;
Michael Chester, a/k/a Mikkie, age 22;
Darien Coleman, a/k/a DCole, age 20;
Gary Creek a/k/a Hov, age 39;
Richard Grier, a/k/a Rich Homie, age 20;
Robert Harris-Howell, a/k/a Slim, age 29;
Dayon Jeter, a/k/a Savage and Day On Geter, age 22;
Desean Johnson, a/k/a Boosie, age 23;
Raekwon McMann, a/k/a Ray Ray, age 23;
Keishonne Moore, a/k/a Keedie, age 23;
Rashaud Nesmith, a/k/a Shaud, age 20;
Tyeshawn Rivers, a/k/a Shawn, age 21; and
Alonzo Tunnell, a/k/a Lo, age 29.
According to the 11-count indictment, from at least 2015 to May 27, 2021, Correy Cawthorn, Desmond Butler, Darrell Carter, Michael Chester, Darien Coleman, Gary Creek, Richard Grier, Dayon Jeter, Raekwon McMann, Rashaud Nesmith and Tyeshawn Rivers were part of the Triple C criminal enterprise. The indictment alleges that Triple C (Cruddy Conniving Crutballs) is a violent street gang that operated throughout Baltimore City, and ran street-level drug distribution “shops” in the Darley Park and Orchard Ridge neighborhoods in east and northeast Baltimore, where they distributed heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine, and marijuana, among other controlled substances.
The second superseding indictment further alleges that Triple C members engaged in a pattern of criminal racketeering activity including acts including 18 murders, 27 attempted murders of rival gang members and narcotics dealers, narcotics trafficking, illegal firearms possession, robbery, carjacking, assault and witness intimidation and retaliation. Law enforcement seized 15 firearms that were used and/or possessed by members of the Triple C gang. Members of the gang allegedly earned respect from fellow members and maintained or advanced their position in the gang by engaging in criminal activities in furtherance of the gang, and particularly violent acts directed by Triple C leadership.
The second superseding indictment alleges that Creek founded Triple C as an alternative gang to the “Black Guerilla Family,” and established a hierarchy within the group, positioning Carter and Cawthorn in prominent roles. Creek allegedly took contract murders on behalf of Triple C and ordered other members to fulfill the contract. Triple C rules allegedly included members having access to firearms and providing firearms to members; removing arrested members from social media chats and group text messages to avoid law enforcement recovering the communications on the arrested members’ phones; and sharing members’ locations through their cell phones. The second superseding indictment alleges that Triple C members used over a dozen different firearms to commit acts of violence, often trading with each other or with associates to avoid detection through ballistic evidence.
According to the second superseding indictment, Triple C members routinely used social media websites to enhance the gang’s status and to identify and locate victims. Triple C members and associates posted photographs and rap videos to these social media websites in which they flaunted firearms, the superiority of the gang, and threatened to kill those who stood in the way of the gang. Members also allegedly used the sites to communicate with each other and share information concerning possible retaliation for violent crimes committed by gang members.
As detailed in the second superseding indictment, Triple C members supported rap artists or were burgeoning rap artists themselves, who would support Triple C by including lyrics about the gang in their songs. For example, in one rap artist’s music video on social media, the lyrics included “ain’t no Crip or no Blood, I’m Triple C baby.” Several alleged members and associates of Triple C are in the video dancing and waving firearms during the rap. In addition, gang members allegedly wore clothing touting the gang and warning against “snitching,” and promoted the gang by giving away clothing, such as t-shirts and hats.
Further, the second superseding indictment alleges that Triple C members and associates used social media chats and text messages to discuss, among other things, past criminal acts; the location and activities of other members; rival gangs and drug traffickers; the arrest or incarceration of members; the identities of individuals suspected of cooperating with law enforcement and proposed action to be taken against them; plans regarding the commission of future crimes and drug distribution; and ways to conceal these crimes from law enforcement.
Incarcerated members of Triple C allegedly used jail telephones to disseminate information about arrests and releases of members and associates; to warn of investigations; to publicize the identities of persons believed to be cooperating with law enforcement; to order assaults and murders of enemies of the enterprise; and to request money from Triple C members who were not incarcerated. Knowing the jail calls are recorded, incarcerated Triple C members and associates allegedly made calls using other inmates’ account numbers to conceal their identities.
The second superseding indictment seeks the forfeiture of any property constituting or derived from the racketeering conspiracy and narcotics distribution, including cash, drugs, 16 firearms, 250 rounds of ammunition, and any other proceeds.
If convicted, the 12 defendants charged with racketeering face a maximum of life in prison for the racketeering conspiracy. The defendants all face a mandatory minimum of 10 years and maximum of life in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including 280 grams or more of crack cocaine and detectable amounts of fentanyl, heroin, and marijuana; and a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Johnson and Moore each face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed and up to life in federal prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Harris-Howell, Tunnell, Cawthorn, Moore, and Johnson each face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Finally, Harris-Howell faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for possession of a firearm and ammunition by a prohibited person. Dayon Jeter, Michael Chester and Darien Coleman were arrested on June 2, 2021 and had initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Chester and Coleman were ordered to be detained pending trail and Jeter has a detention hearing scheduled for June 7, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. Eleven other defendants are already detained on related federal or state charges and will have an initial appearance in the coming weeks. Creek is on pre-trial release and is expected to surrender to federal authorities today for an initial appearance scheduled at 1:00.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
A total of 10 defendants charged in the previous indictments in this case have pleaded guilty. Eight have been sentenced to between three and 17 years in federal prison. Two are awaiting sentencing.
This case was made possible by investigative leads generated from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). NIBIN is the only national network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms. NIBIN is a proven investigative and intelligence tool that can link firearms from multiple crime scenes, allowing law enforcement to quickly disrupt shooting cycles. For more information on NIBIN, visit https://www.atf.gov/firearms/national-integrated-ballistic-information-network-nibin.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods (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.
United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the ATF and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation and thanked the FBI and the Office of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia C. McLane, who is prosecuting the case.
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