The Lexington Terrace Boys

September 20, 2002

ACROSS PUBLIC housing projects in West Baltimore, they left their mark. Scrawled on walls were the initials "LTB," the moniker of brazen young thugs whom federal authorities have charged operated as a gang of drug-dealing thieves and killers.

They left their mark in the streets, six men shot dead allegedly at the hands of the leaders of the Lexington Terrace Boys. And there's more, according to a federal grand jury investigation led by the U.S. attorney's office, federal agents and city detectives: kidnapping, witness tampering, car thefts, cocaine sales and arson carried out with large-caliber guns.

When federal prosecutors first shared the gang's alleged violence with their boss, U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio encouraged them to go after the group and "knock it right out of business." Mr. DiBiagio has pursued federal grand jury indictments with that endgame in mind.

Mr. DiBiagio says the Lexington Terrace case represents the kind of gun violence prosecution that his office is uniquely equipped to handle and should pursue. His point is well-taken.

A successful prosecution, given the penalties, can shut down this kind of violent drug operation, and not just toss mid-level members in jail. The assistant assigned to this case will be able to focus on it in a way that overworked and overwhelmed city prosecutors can't.

We'd like to see more such cases.

In the past, this newspaper has differed with Mr. DiBiagio over the types of gun cases that would benefit from his attention, but there is no disagreement here. A violent gang like the Lexington Terrace Boys has to be stopped, and the U.S. attorney's office has the resources to do it.

Indeed, this is about more than drug dealing. The gang members are accused of terrorizing neighborhoods and carrying out vicious crimes to intimidate witnesses - a practice that destroys community life and undermines our system of justice.

And the defendants - Michael Lafayette Taylor, Keon D. Moses and Aaron Demarco Foster - are so young, 18, 19 and 23, respectively. If they are the alleged ringleaders of this group, how old are their underlings? How many of their peers have been recruited to wear the bandannas and tattoos of the "LTB"?

In the past, one of the alleged ringleaders of the Lexington Terrace Boys escaped conviction in state court on an attempted murder charge, and a second beat a double murder charge. Let's hope Mr. DiBiagio's office can send a different message to the gangs terrorizing Baltimore's streets.

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