DENVER – Sixteen members of Denver’s violent Bloods street gang have been indicted by a federal grand jury, half of them on charges of violent crimes in aid of racketeering.
It's the first time the federal VICAR statute has been used in Colorado.
U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said the charges are a result of a collaborative, forensics-led investigation of the Bloods street gang enterprise.
“We’re here today because nothing tears the fabric of a community like violence,” Troyer said. “Violence breeds fear, stifles education and destroys families.”
Troyer told Denver7 that Federal investigators and Denver and Aurora police are using the racketeering statute to make state crimes, like murder and assault with a dangerous weapon, federal crimes, when they are committed in connection with a racketeering enterprise.
“And make no mistake,” Troyer said, “The Bloods is a racketeering enterprise. The business of the Bloods is violence.”
Troyer said eight of those indicted planned or participated in four violent acts between November 2014 and August 2015, with the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing their position in the Bloods street gang.
The violent acts included two shootings in Denver, a violent home invasion in Douglas County and a home invasion in Aurora. The crimes resulted in these initial charges.
· November 20, 2014 – Attempted Murder
· January 28, 2015 – Conspiracy to commit murder and assault with a deadly weapon
· March 23, 2015 – Assault with a dangerous weapon
· August 5, 2015 – Assault with a dangerous weapon
ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Ken Croke said improvements to the NIBIN database, the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which contains (3-D) digital images of recovered ballistic evidence, is giving prosecutors an edge.
“When using the NIBIN system," Croke said, "we started linking shootings that appeared insignificant.”
The ATF chief said those links show that the same people are involved in most of the violence.
Those charged in the VICAR indictment are:
· Jason Harris, age 20 (a.k.a. Whoopti, a.k.a. Murder Whoop)
· Isaac Jonathan Hernandez, age 20 (a.k.a. JB, a.k.a. Hillsidx Hitta)
· Xavier Davon Claypool, age 22 (a.k.a. X)
· Michael Byrd, age 22 (a.k.a. Rich Porter, a.k.a. Mike Savage)
· Theophus Williams, age 20 (a.k.a. Low Chapo, a.k.a. William Theophus)
· Keandre Mims, age 22 (a.k.a. Hillside Suave)
· Bryce Wilhite, age 22 (a.k.a. Kapone, a.k.a. Kapone Makaveli Hound, a.k.a. Kapone Poloninethe, a.k.a. Polosaucxtwin Dutch)
· Aaron Wilhite, age 22 (a.k.a. Twin NoSurrender NoRetreat).
Nine additional felons in possession of firearms were previously indicted as part of the ATF’s specific investigation in this Bloods criminal enterprise, including:
· Brandon Laeraye Nelson, age 28
· Dedric Delaine Mayfield, age 39
· Isaiah Dumar Claypool, age 25
· Keon Anthony Nixon, age 24
· Michael Aaron Smith, age 39
· Michael Isiah Pierrie, age 22
· Michael Lee Sanders, age 38
· Omari Tavon Martin, age 20
Croke said the historic indictment happened because police departments in Denver and Aurora worked with the ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Denver Police Chief Robert White said investigators will likely use the same racketeering charges against other gangs as well.
“We’re sending out a message to other organized groups whose intent is committing crime, that it’s just a matter of time before they’re next.”
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