Federal and local authorities have busted what they say is a violent heroin gang, taking tens of thousands of dollars worth of drugs off the street and disrupting a pattern of violence that may have been responsible for multiple homicides and armed robberies throughout the region.
The Safe Streets Task Force announced the arrests of 12 members of the Zone 6/BPN gang on Wednesday. The task force has been tracking the gang since 2011 and had it under surveillance in April when an undercover Dayton police detective was shot outside of Leo’s II Bar in Trotwood.
“This ongoing investigation started in April of 2011. The members of the Zone 6/BPN gang are suspects in multiple homicides and robberies,” Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said at a Wednesday press conference.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Tim Ferguson said nine of the 12 alleged gang members arrested over the past 10 days have been indicted on multiple heroin and weapons charges. Three other alleged gang members already were in jail on state charges prior to the release of the indictment, he said.
“This leaves a void in the street-level heroin trade,” Ferguson said. “But there is always someone who will try to fill that void. Our job is to gather the intelligence to get the next group.”
Also off the streets are 10 handguns, three assault-style rifles, a shotgun and more than $46,000 in alleged drug money.
The same task force took down the Booby Hill gang in March, arresting seven alleged gang members. They were charged with working in Fairborn, Middletown and Wapakoneta to peddle hundreds of grams of heroin to addicts throughout Auglaize, Butler, Greene and Montgomery counties. Some of the families of the arrested have denied that their relatives are involved in gangs.
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said officers were aware of the Zone 6 gang — a group of “friends and family” not bound to a particular neighborhood, according to Ferguson — in early 2011. Biehl said the task force got involved after Zone 6 got into a shootout with another group in front of JP’s Bar, a Gettysburg Avenue night spot, in August 2011. ” It was then Biehl asked for help from the task force and surveillance of the gang started.
The August shootout was captured on security video. It showed two men pulling a man from a car and robbing him at gunpoint. At one point, a man is seen running backward while firing a handgun.
“We knew we had to do something to protect the public,” Biehl said.
Three of the 12 were arrested in Atlanta, according to Ferguson.
According to the 22-count federal indictment, all nine are indicted on charges of conspiring to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin. Neither the indictment nor officials identified anyone as the group’s leader.
The indictment alleges Zone 6/BPN — Bottle Poppin’ Network — bought heroin in bulk and broke it into smaller amounts to sell to users. The group shared cell phones —money phones — to set up the sales with the users. When one member couldn’t sell on a particular day, he would give the money phone to another member to continue the sales. The group also established stash houses where they stored and sold their drugs. For security, the group often kept weapons and, in one case, body armor in the stash houses.
Those stash houses included 2742 Oxford Ave., 66 N. Hatfield St. — both in Dayton — and 472 Ginger Place in Trotwood.
Those arrested and their charges include:
- Brittan A. “BB” Gibson, 25, one count of drug trafficking and two counts of possessing a firearm in the furtherance of the trafficking
- Sherman Brown, 23, five drug distribution counts, one count of maintaining a stash house, two firearms count, and one count involving the sale of two bulletproof vests as a convicted felon
- Brian J. “BH” Hunter, 21, two drug counts and one firearms count
- Keith A. Strickland Jr., 24, one drug count, one firearms count and one stash house count
- Steven L. “Stevie-O” Mayberry, 21, one drug count
- Paul “P” Hudson, 25, one drug count, two firearms counts, one stash house count
- Maurice R. “Fat-Fat” Morgan Jr., no age available, two drug counts
- Marcus Gullatte, no age available, one drug count, one firearms count and one stash house count
- Jerron McDowell, 19, one drug count and one firearms count
Authorities also confiscated a 2008 Dodge Charger, 10 handguns, three assault-style rifles, bulletproof vests, assorted jewelry and $46,382 in cash.
Three other alleged gang members — Tyler “BG” Hamilton, 20, Gabriel “Gino” Newman, no age available, and Todd Clark, 24 — were in jail prior to the indictments on various state charges, the FBI’s Ferguson said. Hamilton was involved in a drug-related homicide in Harrison Twp. last year. Hamilton was in his car when he shot a 19-year-old Hillsboro man when the man attacked him in an argument over a drug sale. Prosecutors declined to charge Hamilton because of the state’s Castle Doctrine that allows a person to defend themselves against attack in their house or vehicle.
A 13th alleged gang member, 22-year-old Charles Moore III, was killed in a traffic accident last month when he spotted an undercover sheriff’s deputy and fled along Gettysburg, running a red light at Hoover Avenue. His Jeep was struck by another vehicle at the intersection. Police found cash and multiple cell phones in the wrecked Jeep.