A Maryland offshoot of the California-based Bloods gang operated from a prison cell with the help of a 27-year-old woman who handled day-to-day business on the outside, according to a federal racketeering indictment of 35 people unsealed Thursday.
The indictment alleges that since 2005, the South Side Brims Bloods gang has operated in counties from western Maryland to the lower Eastern Shore. It said members were involved in drug trafficking, home-invasion robberies, witness intimidation, a jail break, and several shootings, including one killing.
The indictment details scores of crimes, including a September 2009 fatal shooting in Baltimore, several attempted slayings across the state, a January 2010 assault on two police officers in Frederick County, an April 2010 flash mob, and a November 2010 plan by two members to kill a witness with poisoned heroin. The indictment also alleges that gang members helped a prisoner escape from the Garrett County Detention Center using a gun in January. Inmate Deandre Kelly was found more than three months later in Virginia.
Gangs represent the most significant violent crime challenge to law enforcement officials in Maryland, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said.
“These gangs are a danger not only in themselves, but because they influence others and they create other violence including retaliatory violence,” he said.
Frederick police investigating a stabbing at a motel in 2009 found a gang member roster listing the nicknames and telephone numbers or inmate identification number of members by geographic areas around Maryland and outside the state.
Over two years, investigators working on the probe dubbed “Cardinal Sin” recorded phone calls, developed confidential sources, intercepted letters discussing gang business and found websites containing gang messages, photos and videos. Investigators later found similar rosters in Gaithersburg, Easton and Richmond, Va., and handbooks, sometimes referred to as a bible, that contain the history of the Bloods gang and the creation of the South Side Brims, breakdowns of gang terminology and hand signs.
An affidavit supporting search warrants executed in March alleges that the gang’s leader, Andre Roach, was recruited by a Bloods gang member from Compton, Calif., who was incarcerated in Maryland, and in 2005, Roach was granted permission to start his own set in Maryland. The indictment alleges that Roach sent letters through Monique Heller of Suitland, who is accused of being the South Side Brims’ “first lady” or secretary, helping operate the gang on the outside.
Speaking at a news conference in Baltimore on Thursday, police leaders from across Maryland said the indictment will make a difference.
“This makes communities safer because the result of the activities of these hoodlums is that they are creating fear in their communities,” said Howard County Police Chief William McMahon.
Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine noted that 16 of the 35 people indicted were from the Frederick area.
“These charges are going to have a huge impact on the city of Frederick and the quality of life,” he said.