13 suspected gang members arrested in Springfield drug sweep

By Stephanie Berry (masslive.com)
October 8, 2009

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More than a dozen members of the city’s most troubling street gangs were arrested Thursday, according to court records unsealed in U.S. District Court.

An FBI affidavit drafted to urge several of nine defendants’ pretrial detention appears symbolic of the city’s unrelenting street crime problem, particularly in Mason Square.

Early morning arrests by the Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force honed in on that neighborhood and its three pervasive street gangs: the Eastern Avenue, Sycamore Street and Bristol Street “posses.”

Investigators estimate there are 300 members collectively, and among them, they have amassed 264 adult arraignments, the affidavit states.

A sworn statement by FBI agent Mark S. Karangekis said of several suspects in their 20s and early 30s, they are considered “OG’s” or “Old or Original Gangsters” who spend time recruiting young people from the inner city.

“These older members recruit young teens to sell their drugs and do their violence … and ruin their lives,” Karangekis said after a press briefing Thursday afternoon. “We’ve been coming after them, and we’re going to keep coming after them.”

Nine defendants were charged with cocaine trafficking and other offenses in federal court, and four others were charged with drug crimes in Hampden Superior Court. The sweep was part of the “Mason Square Initiative,” which officials said has netted almost 100 “significant” associates of street gangs since 2005.

The latest chapter of that initiative involved members whom investigators believe wholesale cocaine to younger, street-level dealers.

Most of Thursday’s charges stemmed from “controlled buys” from an undercover FBI informant, (labeled a CHS, or confidential human source), which was video- or audiotaped by authorities, the affidavit states.

According to federal court records, charged were: Lawon Baulkman, of the Sycamore Street posse; Antoine Watts, of the same; Maurice Spencer, an alleged drug trafficker with the Bristol Street posse; James Collins, of the Eastern Avenue posse; Anthony Graham, of the Sycamore Street posse; Ringo Vaughan, no affiliation cited; Jayson McIvery, of the Sycamore Street and Eastern Avenue posses; Tommie Lee Collins, of the Eastern Avenue posse; and Eugene Crenshaw, of the Sycamore Street posse, all of Springfield.

In addition, four were charged with narcotics offenses in state court: Keon Gladden; Sidney Cox, Michael Atkins and Gregory Harris.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michael K. Loucks and officials from the FBI, Massachusetts State Police, Springfield police and other state and local agencies attended Thursday’s press briefing.

Karangekis said in his affidavit that local gang members spend considerable energy paying “homage” to gang associates who have been wounded or died and hatching retribution plans, which fuels street violence in the city.

The affidavit cites three gang-related homicides in 2008 and five this year.

Springfield Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet said drugs and gangs are the “engine that drives” the majority of street violence in the city.

The defendants are scheduled to appear in state and federal courts for arraignments and bail hearings over the next several days.

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3 Comments for “13 suspected gang members arrested in Springfield drug sweep”

  1. malcolmkyle

    So the Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force just created well paid job vacancies. Well done!

    To start making any sense at all we have to stop caging people for exercising their God given right to abuse their own bodies. Until then Obama and his Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske have essentially become shills for the Taliban and alQaida.

    A regulated and licensed distribution network would put responsible adult supervision in between children and premature access to drug distribution outlets. Regulated and licensed distribution would reflect and respect society’s values, thus preventing children obtaining easy access to theses dangerous substances.  What we need is legalized regulation. what we have is a non-regulated black market to which everybody has access and where all the profits go to organized crime and terrorists.

    Drugs may not be good for you, but prohibition is far worse!

  2. shy cas

    drink more v8

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