PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Six alleged Chad Brown gang members and associates are facing federal charges that they ran a criminal enterprise by engaging in drive-by shootings, drug trafficking and federal firearms offenses — all intended, authorities say, to protect their territory from rivals and preserve their reputation on the streets.
A federal grand jury last week indicted the six men, ages 22 to 30, for violating the Racketeer Influenced Criminal Organization (RICO) Act, a federal law created to combat organized crime and public corruption in the United States that is now being used in an effort to dismantle street gangs. The last time is was aimed at a street gang in Rhode Island was in the mid-1990s during the prosecution of the murderous Latin Kings.
Four of those indicted are alleged to have participated in drive-by shootings that came in retaliation for the shootings and murders of Chad Brown gang members and associates by East Side rivals, according to authorities.
“These groups have been going at it a very long time,” U.S. Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch said at a news conference announcing the indictments.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives linked one gun owned by the men and shared among the gang members to six shootings, Dambruch said. Three of the shootings charged in the indictment involved that gun, a .40 caliber Beretta, authorities said.
Kenneth Kwak, assistant special agent in charge of the ATF’s Boston field office, said investigators began focusing in when a pattern emerged indicating a “group or small group” of people was responsible for the shootings.
“That’s when the partnership really began,” Kwak said, referring to the joint investigation by federal and state prosecutors, the ATF and the Providence police.
“They are the most violent we’ve seen … and that’s why we targeted them,” Kwak said. The idea is to put as many resources as possible to taking down “the worst of the worst — trigger-pullers,” he said.
“It really takes out key players from Chad,” Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré said. He described those charges as very active, upper-ranking Chad Brown members.
The conflict began heating up in June 2013, with the shooting death of Chad Brown member José Sanchez, whose murder remains unsolved, according to the indictment. Sanchez’s family said at the time of his shooting that he was not involved in gangs.
Those facing charges and now in custody include:
-Delacey Andrade, 24, of North Providence, is charged with violating RICO; four counts of committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering; two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm; three counts of using a firearm to commit a federal crime of violence; and distribution of cocaine. Andrade is being held at the Adult Correctional Institutions after admitting to gun and drug charges in state court.
-Keishon Johnson, 29, of Providence, is charged with violating RICO; three counts of committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering; three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime; possession with intent to distribute marijuana; and conspiracy to distribute marijuana. He is being held at the ACI for violating the terms of his probation after being charged in April with firearms and drug offenses.
-Montrel Johnson, 22, of Providence, is charged with violating RICO; two counts of committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering; use of a firearm to commit a federal crime of violence; four counts of obstruction for allegedly refusing to testify before a grand jury, despite being ordered by the judge; and criminal contempt of court.
-Marcel Jones, 30, of West Warwick, is charged with committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering; being a felon in possession of a firearm; and use of a firearm to commit a federal crime of violence.
-Kendrick Johnson, 27, of North Providence, is charged with violating RICO; committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering; being a felon in possession of a firearm; use of a firearm to commit a federal crime of violence; and six counts of distribution of cocaine.
-Christopher Britto, 25, of Warwick, is charged with committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering and use of a firearm to commit a federal crime of violence.
Britto, Kendrick Johnson and Montrel Johnson are in federal custody. Kendrick and Keishon Johnson are brothers, while Montrel is a cousin, according to police.
“The case is in its infancy. I’ll wait to see what discovery the government produces,” Kendrick Johnson’s lawyer, Gary Pelletier, said.
Asked why the investigation targeted the Chad Brown gang instead of East Side rival gangs, Dambruch said, “This is just getting started. This is not the end of the story.”
Providence Police Detectives Theodore Michael, Jonathan Primiano and Timothy McGann assisted in the investigation along with Assistant Attorney General James Baum and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gerard Sullivan and Sandra Hebert.
Published at Tue, 30 Oct 2018 00:13:45 +0000