Task force takes down major gang

DENVER – A federal grand jury in Denver has returned eight separate indictments charging a total of 52 individuals with trafficking cocaine and crack cocaine in the Denver metro area, Acting United States Attorney Bob Troyer, FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers, Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz, and members of the Metro Gang Task Force announced.  

Of the 52 indicted, 35 were arrested. The other 17 defendants are considered fugitives. Most of those arrested on Thursday made an initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge, where they were advised of their rights and the charges pending against them. Those individuals will have detention hearings and arraignments next week on May 9. Those who didn’t make it to court on Thursday will appear in court on Friday, May 5.

Thursday’s take down involved 225 Special Agents and officers from 18 agencies, including SWAT teams from four different departments. This 20-month investigation focused on cocaine and crack cocaine dealing by members and associates of the East Side Crips. These gang members dealt cocaine and crack cocaine in open air drug markets, including near parks and public transportation centers – both areas where children and families congregate. The goal of this investigation is to remove poison, fear and danger from these places so they can be used again freely by the public.

The lead defendants of each of the eight indictments are:  Jerrell Birch (1 of 14 defendants); Rodrick Harris (1 of 4 defendants); Shedrick Wilford (1 of 6 defendants); Tamar Henry (sole defendant); Sealed Indictment; Deon Jackson (sole defendant); Kiki Douglas (1 of 6 defendants); and Clarence Antoine and Spencer Antoine (2 of 22 defendants).  Three defendants are named in two different indictments.

If convicted, the 52 defendants face a wide variety of criminal consequences depending on the drug trafficking charges. Some face not less than 10 years and up to life, others face not less than five years and up to 40 years, and yet others face not more than 20 years in federal prison. Also, some defendants are charged with using a telephone to commit a drug trafficking offense. The penalty for that charge is not more than four years in federal prison per count.

“In Colorado we pride ourselves on gold-standard law enforcement partnerships that make life safe here,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “Eighteen agencies came together in this investigation and removed poison, fear and danger from parks, neighborhoods, and public transportation. And they did it with minimal disruption to the folks in those communities who just want to go outside, walk to school, use their parks, or take the light rail.”

“Today’s arrests are indicative of the success that can be attained when agencies combine resources to attack violent street gangs,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers on Thursday. “Crimes of this nature cause our citizens to live in fear and threaten to destroy our neighborhoods. This cannot be tolerated. We are confident today’s arrests will send a message to those contemplating committing these egregious acts that they will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The FBI will continue to continue to work with our law enforcement partners and prosecutors to attack this crime problem and remove violent criminals from our neighborhoods.” 

“The magnitude of this investigation demonstrates the collaborative effort to identify, target and address metropolitan-wide organized gangs involved in drug trafficking and violence in our community,” said Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz. “The hard work and dedication of all the investigators and officers involved will have a tremendous impact on our communities. Thank you to everyone who was involved.”

The Metro Gang Task Force consists of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Aurora Police Department, the FBI, the Denver Police Department, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado National Guard Joint Counter-Drug Task Force, the Denver District Attorney’s Office, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Lakewood Police Department, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI). Agencies assisting with the arrest operations include: the Longmont Police Department, the Northglenn Police Department, the Thornton Police Department, the Westminster Police Department, and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.