Eight defendants charged in the District’s first ever use of VICAR (Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering) statute
DENVER – Eight members of the Bloods street gang have been indicted by a federal grand jury this week on charges of Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR), Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Ken Croke, Denver Police Chief Robert White and Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz announced today. Of the eight indicted, six were previously in custody with the other two recently arrested. This is the first time the VICAR statute has been used in the District of Colorado. Law enforcement employed cutting-edge forensic tools to identify the most violent Bloods gang members, including shell-casing analysis, acoustic gunshot detection technology, and cell phone and social media exploitation.
The VICAR indictment alleges the Bloods are an enterprise whose business is violence, including murder. The indictment charges five counts of violent crimes in aid of racketeering; those violent crimes include conspiracy to commit two different murders, an attempted murder, and two different assaults with a dangerous weapon. The indictment also charges three counts of using firearms to commit violence in aid of the racketeering enterprise. Finally, the indictment charges three counts of unlawful gun possession.
In the early 1970’s, the Bloods gang was formed in Los Angeles, California. The gang initially was comprised of smaller individual street gangs that unified as the Bloods to protect themselves from a larger street gang, the Crips. Over time, Blood gang “sets” developed across the country. Despite differing geographic regions, the sets maintain common tattoos, communication codes, language, and graffiti markings. Members wear the color red to identify themselves as Bloods and to distinguish themselves from members of the Crips, who commonly wear blue and with whom the Bloods have an often lethal rivalry. Bloods are involved in a variety of criminal activities including threats, witness intimidation, aggravated assault, and murder in the District of Colorado. They have operated here since approximately the early 1990’s.
New Bloods members are recruited, generally as juveniles, and are “quoted” into the gang by being beaten by existing Bloods members. Members earn respect by engaging in violence and through a variety of criminal activities including robberies and drug dealing. Members typically tattoo their bodies to identify their membership in, and allegiance to, the Bloods. New recruits are indoctrinated in the Bloods’ rules, which are enforced. One prominent rule encourages Bloods members to confront, fight, and kill rival gang members, particularly the Crips.
Another prominent rule commands silence about gang activity and forbids cooperation with law enforcement. The sanction for violating the code of silence is a “green light.” A “green light” is the signal that the gang approves the beating or killing of someone suspected of cooperating with law enforcement.
The indictment alleges that the defendants participated in the conduct of the Bloods’ business by the following means and methods:
- Members of the Bloods and their associates used intimidation, violence, and threats of violence, including murder and assault, to preserve, expand, and protect the enterprise’s territory and activities.
- Members of the Bloods and their associates used intimidation, violence, and threats of violence, including murder and assault, to promote and enhance its prestige, reputation, and position in the community.
- Members of the Bloods and their associates promoted a climate of fear through intimidation, violence, and threats of violence.
- Members of the Bloods and their associates used intimidation, violence, and threats of violence, including murder and assault, against various individuals, including known and suspected members of rival gangs and against those who challenged their members or associates.
- Members of the Bloods and their associates used intimidation, violence, and threats of violence, including murder and assault, to discipline enterprise members and associates who had violated enterprise rules.
- Members of the Bloods and their associates used intimidation, violence, and threats of violence, including murder and assault, to punish enterprise members and associates who had been disloyal.
- Members of the Bloods and their associates advertised women, including those under the age of 18, for companionship on websites in order to rob the responding parties.
- Members of the Bloods and their associates procured and shared firearms for their use and protection.
- Members of the Bloods and their associates sold controlled substances, including cocaine, ecstasy, codeine, Xanax, and marijuana.
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); and Aaron Wilhite, age 22 (a.k.a. Twin NoSurrender NoRetreat). Some defendants face mandatory minimum sentences between seven and ten years, with maximum sentences of up to 20 years. Others face penalties of not more than ten years in federal prison.
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; Derek Jerome Moore, age 27; 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; and Omari Tavon Martin, age 20.
“One violent act can ruin several generations of lives,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “The desire for citizen safety is the deepest common bond between communities, law enforcement, and this office. Fueled by teamwork and forensics-led policing, these prosecutions prove our top priority: to ensure safety and restore trust by taking apart violent criminal organizations and removing their members, especially those committing gun violence, from our streets.”
“This historical indictment is a major success for the citizens of Denver and particularly North Park Hill. Over a year ago, ATF, Denver PD, Aurora PD, Lakewood PD and the U.S. Attorney’s Office committed to using the Crime Gun Intelligence Center and NIBIN to target serial gang shooters we believed were responsible for a disproportionate amount of rising gun violence in our community,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Ken Croke. “Thanks to this partnership, they are no longer anyone’s next door neighbor.”
This case was investigated by ATF, the Denver Police Department, the Aurora Police Department, the Lakewood Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service.
The charges contained in the Indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.