Police have charged 16 people following an investigation into a Hartford street gang.
The investigation targeted criminal activity that was reportedly being committed by members of the Orange Street Killas (OSK).
According to authorities, the gang operates in the area of Orange, Cherry and Arbor streets.
The investigation was launched following a string of reports of shots being fired in the area, and a homicide that happened on Cherry Street in October of 2015.
"We were drawn to this area because there was a homicide here last year. Right around the corner where we are standing and addition between March and August of last year, there was 5 different incidents of shootings right here on Orange Street at locations where families live, children live," U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said. "Shootings again and again."
On Wednesday, police released a 31-count indictment that charges 16 people with federal narcotics offenses related to the distribution of heroin and crack cocaine in Hartford.
Charged in the indictment are:
Ruben Torres, a.k.a. “rube,” “ru,” and “t,” 25, of Hartford
Antwane Williams-Bey, a.k.a. “buck,” 26, of East Windsor
Michael Chapman, a.k.a. “nice” and “mizzo,” 25, of New Britain
Charles Turner, a.k.a. “rell” and “cj,” 26, of Hartford
Tayrence Willis, a.k.a. “t” and “t-franklin,” 24, of Hartford
Tyrryq Rodriguez, a.k.a. “ty,” “little ty” and “tye bangs,” 19, of Hartford
Eric Smith, a.k.a. “hood,” 29, of Hartford
Adrian Cruz, a.k.a. “ray,” 28, of Hartford
Brendan Salmon, a.k.a. “one eye,” 23, of Hartford
Noel Montanez, 18, of Hartford
Jhovany Valdes, 40, of East Windsor
Willie Deas, a.k.a. “debo” and “flee,” 21, of Hartford
Marcus Gary, 33, of South Windsor
Yolanda Lozada, a.k.a. “sexy,” 38, of East Hartford
Jamal Johnson, 29, of Hartford
Buell French, 36, of Hartford
For 13-year-old Raquan Knight, he said the basketball court is a temporary escape, growing up in Hartford's Parkville neighborhood.
“A lot of shoot outs, sometimes our parents don't want us coming outside cause they don't think it's safe,” Knight said.
Knight said he stays safe by keeping his head down and listening to his mentor Hiram Justcardonna who gives him straight forward advice.
“Just ignore all the drama coming towards my way,” Justcardonna said. “He told me I'm a better kid and I know that I can do better things too.”
Justcardonna volunteers with Compass Peacebuilders, which is an organization that provides role models for kids. He said his job has become more difficult lately because of gangs and the violence and heroin they bring to this neighborhood.
“They're destroying it,” Justcardonna said.
That's why Justcardonna is excited about the joint law enforcement effort between Hartford Police Department and federal agencies.
“It could make a difference,” Justcardonna said. “It could make people in the community say OK they care about us.”
Shootings in the Parkville neighborhood led to the crack down.
“We appreciate the efforts of law enforcement for doing their jobs,” Justcardonna said. “And doing their jobs correctly.”
Hartford Deputy Chief Brian Foley said the arrests have already made the neighborhood safer, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
“The heroin problem is not just a Hartford problem, but a regional problem if not a national problem,” Foley said.
Back on the court, Knight said he is happy about the police crackdown, but he knows that living on these streets means he still has to keep his head down and of course listen to his mentor.
“There's drug dealers all around the world and there's plenty of them in Hartford,” Knight said.
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