Two Cherry Hill Hillside Gang Members Plead Guilty To Federal Racketeering Conspiracy Charges
Defendants Agree with Federal Prosecutors to Recommend Sentences of 23 Years, and Between 12 and 17 Years in Federal Prison, Respectively
Eight Co-Defendants Previously Pleaded Guilty and Were Sentenced to Between 10 and 30 Years In Federal Prison
Baltimore, Maryland – On Friday, April 5, 2019, Christopher Dukes, age 27; and Marcus Johnson, age 28, both of Baltimore, Maryland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise related to their activities as members of the Hillside gang that operated in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore. As part of Dukes’ plea agreement, he admitted to participating in two murders; two attempted murders, including of a law enforcement officer; and the distribution of narcotics.
Ten other Hillside gang members have previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the racketeering conspiracy. Of those, eight have been sentenced to between 10 and 30 years in federal prison. Seven defendants are scheduled to go to trial on May 6, 2019. Two defendants remain at large and are being sought by law enforcement.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby.
“The most important thing that law enforcement officers can do to stop violence is to make clear that killers will be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “The Hillside gang is responsible for murders and other acts of violence throughout their community. All of the members of the conspiracy were aware of the violent acts committed by this gang. Christopher Dukes personally participated in two murders and two attempted murders. He and his co-defendants will now serve years in federal prison, where there is no parole--ever.”
“The gun violence resulting from these gang turf wars and rivalries is tearing this city apart,” said ATF Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada. “We remain committed in our mission to identify, investigate, and incarcerate anyone using firearms to commit these violent crimes.”
According to their plea agreements, Dukes and Johnson were members and associates of the Hillside Enterprise, which they knew distributed powder and crack cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and marijuana, primarily in the Cherry Hill Shopping Center, in other locations throughout Cherry Hill, and in west and southwest Baltimore City. The members of the Hillside Enterprise used the proceeds of their narcotics sales to purchase firearms, to enrich themselves, and to further the activities of the organization, including narcotics trafficking. Hillside members used residences in and around Cherry Hill to cut and package drugs for distribution, primarily heroin, powder cocaine, and crack. Only trusted members of the Hillside Enterprise were admitted to these locations while the drugs were being prepared for sale. In an effort to distinguish their narcotics, members used colored topped vials or colored the drugs with food coloring. Dukes admitted that he sold drugs as a member of Hillside, including on school grounds in 2012, and was captured on video in a Hillside cut house preparing drugs for sale in 2014. Johnson also admitted that he regularly distributed drugs on behalf of the gang.
Members of the Hillside Enterprise routinely carried firearms and committed acts of violence in furtherance of the organization’s activities, including shootings, beatings, murders, and other violence in order to intimidate others who would interfere with their narcotics trafficking. Acts of violence were also committed to discipline members within the Hillside Enterprise for transgressions, real or perceived, against the conspiracy. For example, Johnson admitted that on January 13, 2012, in the 400 block of Roundview Road in Baltimore, he participated in an assault of an individual who sold narcotics on behalf of Hillside.
Hillside members and associates have been in a long-running dispute with persons not part of the gang, including Up Da Hill (“UDH”), the Lakebrook Circle Boys, and others. Members and associates of Hillside have routinely engaged in acts of violence, including murder, directed at members of these rival organizations, or persons who happen to be located on territory controlled by these rival organizations. Dukes and Johnson knew that these acts of violence, including the homicides, were committed by Hillside members and associates.
Specifically, Dukes admitted that on August 1, 2011, he attempted to hit a law enforcement officer with his car in the 2900 block of Waterview Avenue. Further, in a case of mistaken identity, on August 6, 2012, Duke and three other Hillside members shot two individuals, killing one of them, in the 2700 block of Giles Road, in the Up Da Hill section of Cherry Hill. The intended target of Dukes and his fellow Hillside members was a member of the Up Da Hill gang. Dukes and two other Hillside members also participated in the murder of an individual on September 8, 2012, in the 2600 block of Kent Street in Baltimore, in a dispute over drugs and money. Dukes admitted that on October 18, 2012, he and at least one Hillside co-conspirator shot an individual during an attempted robbery, using the same gun that was used in the murder on September 8, 2012. On March 12, 2015, Dukes and another Hillside member possessed with intent to distribute two baggies of cocaine, and had a 9mm semi-automatic handgun that had been used by another Hillside member to shoot a rival Up Da Hill member on November 2, 2013.
Johnson was arrested for possessing a firearm on August 15, 2009, and posted videos on social media in which he identified himself as a Hillside member, and raps about other Hillside members and their activities, including dealing narcotics.
Dukes and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Dukes will be sentenced to 23 years in federal prison. Johnson and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts his plea, Johnson will be sentenced to between 12 and 17 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III has scheduled sentencing for Dukes and Johnson on June 17, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., respectively.
According to the ATF, a reward of $10,000 each is available for information leading to the arrest of the two fugitive defendants in this case, Travis Eugene Alewine, a/k/a Sticks, age 27; and Deaven Raeshawn Cherry, a/k/a Gotti, age 32, both of Baltimore, who are charged federally with drug and racketeering conspiracies, including murders. They are actively being sought by ATF Baltimore Special Agents and the U.S. Marshals Service. They should be considered armed and dangerous. Law enforcement believes they are likely still in the counties near Baltimore City, if not within the city itself. Anyone with information should contact ATF at (888) ATF-TIPS, ATFtips@atf.gov, text “ATFBAL” to 63975, or contact ATF via the mobile reportit® app.
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 Robert K. Hur commended the ATF, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia C. McLane and Michael C. Hanlon, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.
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