DiBiagio says city gang is `finished'

7 North Avenue Boys face drug, firearm, carjacking charges in federal court

July 02, 2004|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

Federal and local authorities announced yesterday that they have dismantled a well-armed East Baltimore street gang, and will prosecute in federal court the men accused of waging war with other city drug distributors and terrorizing neighborhoods throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Maryland U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio, in a joint news conference yesterday with Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark and State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, promised to bring the full force of federal law down on seven members of the North Avenue Boys, whose indictments were unsealed this week.

Most, if not all, of the men indicted have already faced state prosecution on murder and other serious charges, but avoided conviction or were found guilty only of reduced counts.

"The people in Baltimore City should know we give a damn," DiBiagio said. "And they should know that these young men, they're finished."

The North Avenue Boys was the group ambushed in a 2001 Memorial Day shooting, when the rival Hot Boys gang sprayed bullets into a North Avenue block party, hitting 12 people, killing one. Police described the attack as retaliation for the attempted murder of a Hot Boys member's wife.

Yesterday, authorities said the North Avenue group used violence and intimidation to protect its heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine network.

"This investigation focused on the lethal cocktail of guns and drugs," Jessamy said. "The cocktail festers, and it explodes."

The seven men indicted were Shawn "Henbo" Henry, 27; London "Bird" King, 24; Tyrell "Chino" Fields, 34; Ryan "Buddy Love" Ayers, 24; Corey "Gutter" Grant, 26; Dante "Cool Don" Faulkner, 25; and Charles "Poppy" Laster, 24.

They are charged with drug conspiracies, firearms violations and carjacking, among other counts.

According to the indictment, the group operated houses around the 2000 block of North Ave. to package and stash drugs for street sale. It paid lookouts to keep an eye out for police officers, and hired "pitchers" to serve customers with drugs at various city locations, according to the indictment.

Members used violence - including at least five killings and 22 shootings, according to the indictment - to keep their business going.

The indictment describes a well-armed gang with a variety of firearms, including a Davis .380 caliber handgun, a Cobray M-11 semiautomatic assault rifle and a High Standard .22 caliber revolver.

The group would drive around looking for rival gang members to kill, the indictment says. In January 2001, Henry, Faulkner, King, Ayers, Grant and Laster carjacked and kidnapped Larhonda Lomax, a rival's wife, and threatened to kill her unless she told them where they could find her husband, according to the indictment.

Later, the indictment said, Henry shot her, and then drove her white Jeep Cherokee to West Baltimore and set it on fire. Lomax survived the shooting.

Henry was tried in the attempted murder in state court, but the case ended in a mistrial.

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