Indictment Charges 7 Murders, 7 Attempted Murders, Witness Tampering, and Arson
SAN FRANCISCO – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the FBI, the San Francisco Police Department, and the ATF announced that a federal grand jury returned an 86-count second superseding indictment against 12 alleged members of the Down Below Gangsters on the following charges, among others:
Racketeering Conspiracy – RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization)
7 Murders in Aid of Racketeering
7 Attempted Murders in Aid of Racketeering
Use of a Firearm in Relation to a Crime of Violence
The indictment was returned under seal on October 27, and unsealed on October 28, 2005. The following individuals were charged in the indictment:
Emile Fort, age 24,
Edgar Diaz, age 20,
Ricky Rollins, age 19,
Don Johnson, age 19,
Robert Calloway, age 21,
Dornell Ellis, age 24,
Allan Calloway, age 23,
Christopher Byes, age 24,
Paris Ragland, age 20,
Ronnie Calloway, age 25, and
2 redacted defendants
“All citizens deserve to live in a safe community, free from gang violence and drug dealing. The scourge of gangs holds residents hostage in their own communities by living in constant fear from retribution and random violence. This is intolerable. We, as federal prosecutors, have powerful tools – the federal racketeering statutes – to dismantle these alleged organizations, and we will use them to their fullest extent when appropriate. I applaud the commitment and determination of the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department as members of the Safe Streets Task Force in working together to end this tragic violence in our communities. I also want to thank the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their expertise in analyzing the ballistics evidence in this case.”
The indictment alleges three broad conspiracies since at least 1998: a RICO conspiracy, a firearms conspiracy in furtherance of drug distribution, and a narcotics distribution conspiracy.
Members of the Down Below Gangsters are alleged to have operated principally around the Sunnydale public housing complex, in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley neighborhood. The alleged purpose of the enterprise included:
Enriching the members and associates of the enterprise through, among other things, the distribution of narcotics and robbery.
Preserving and protecting the power, territory and profits of the enterprise through the use of violence, threats of violence, assaults, murder, attempted murder, and obstruction of justice.
Avoiding criminal prosecution and detection by law enforcement through the use of violence, threats of violence, assaults, murder, and attempted murder against actual, potential and perceived witnesses.
The indictment further alleges that gang members took on roles including, among others, lookout, “gofer”, enforcer, hitter, protector, and street seller. The gang is alleged to have had a loosely hierarchical decision-making structure. The leaders of the gang are alleged to have authorized acts of violence, including murder, against members of the enterprise by issuing an order commonly referred to as a “green light.”
Joe Ford, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI stated, “Violent gangs are a growing problem and today’s indictment is the first of many on-going investigations to combat crime in our streets. It is extremely important to destabilize the gang at all levels, to include leadership as well as those committing the acts of violence. The RICO statute is a critical tool in the FBI’s fight against gangs as it enables us to target the entire organization.”
The defendants are charged with using firearms, including assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols and revolvers, to commit murders against individuals perceived as potential witnesses against the conspiracy. Defendants are also charged with using firearms in furtherance of a) their own narcotics trafficking, b) to provide an umbrella of armed protection to members of the conspiracy, and to c) intimidate and commit armed assaults, attempt murders, and murders against rival gang members.
San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong stated, “This indictment sends a clear message that we are working in a collaborative effort with other law enforcement agencies to reduce violent crime in San Francisco. These shootings and homicides must stop.”
The following firearms were seized during the course of this investigation:
1 SKS Assault Rifle
1 Mini 14 machine pistol
1 Mac 11 machine pistol
1 Mac 90 machine pistol
1 sawed-off shotgun
1 sawed-off rifle
10-15 pistols (.45, 9mm, .380, .25, .22)
Gang members are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy. The indictment also alleges that gang members were attempting to smuggle narcotics into San Francisco County Jail. It was further part of the alleged conspiracy that narcotics were stored, prior to distribution to customers, in and around designated “stash” locations. The defendants allegedly used these “stash” locations to store crack cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, and weapons in order to prevent their being found by the police or rivals, and to hide the items’ connection to members of the conspiracy. According to the indictment, some of these “stash” locations were also used for processing, cutting, packaging, and distributing the organization’s cocaine base, ecstasy, and marijuana.
Allen Calloway and Christopher Byes were arrested on October 27, and made their initial appearances on October 28. Edgar Diaz, Don Johnson, and Rickey Rollins were arrested last March on VICAR charges and are in federal custody and will make their initial appearance on November 3 before Magistrate Judge Chen. Two defendants are fugitives, and the remaining defendants are in state custody and will later be transferred to federal court to face these charges.
Eight of these defendants face life in prison or the death penalty. The other four face life in prison. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. 3553. An indictment only contains allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, these defendants must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted.
The prosecution is the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department. I want to thank Philip Kearney as the lead prosecutor on this case and also Assistant United States Attorneys Richard Cutler and Hartley West and Department of Justice Organized Crime and Racketeering Section Trial Attorney David Malagold for their work on this case. Organized Crime Strike Force Chief Anjali Chaturvedi is supervising the prosecution of the case.
A copy of this press release and related court filings may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.
Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/ (click on the link for “to retrieve documents from the court”).
Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at www.cand.uscourts.gov.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at [email protected]