Members Of Two Local Gangs Charged With Racketeering, Murders And Other Federal Offenses

May 5, 2011 Updated May 5, 2011 at 8:55 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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May 5, 2011 Updated May 5, 2011 at 8:55 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. ( release)-- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury in Buffalo has returned a six-count Indictment charging members of the 7th Street Gang with violent crimes in aid of racketeering, narcotics trafficking and firearm offenses.

The Indictment charges Efrain Hidalgo, Kasiem Williams, Esteban Ramos-Cruz, and Juan Torres with the murder of Eric Morrow on August 11, 2009. Morrow was a member of the rival 10th Street Gang. The defendants are also charged with using a firearm during a crime of violence. Williams is also accused of the attempted murder of Saul Santana, also a member of the 10th Street gang, on September 24, 2009.

The murder charges against defendants Efrain Hidalgo, Williams, Ramos-Cruz, and Torres carry the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty. No determination has yet been made as to the sentence that will be sought by the Department of Justice. Attempted murder is punishable by 10 years in prison to life.

Efrain Hidalgo, Williams, Ramos-Cruz and Torres along with Thomas Rodriguez and Jordan Hildago are charged with narcotics conspiracy involving heroin and marijuana and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The Indictment alleges that the 7th Street Gang is a rival group engaged in crimes against the rival 10th Street Gang dating back 2004. In addition to violent crime, the 7th Street Gang is believed to sell heroin, marijuana and other controlled substances.

U.S. Attorney Hochul also announced today that a federal grand jury in Buffalo has returned a Superceding Indictment charging five additional members and associates of the 10th Street Gang with racketeering conspiracy, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, narcotics trafficking and firearm offenses. In September 2010, 27 10th Street Gang members and associates were indicted on similar charges.

David Deynes, Charles Watkins and Derrick Yancey are charged with RICO conspiracy and narcotics conspiracy. Deynes and Watkins are also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime. In addition, Michael Hernandez and Benjamin Medina are also charged with narcotics conspiracy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime. RICO conspiracy carries a penalty of up to life in prison, narcotics conspiracy a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life, and firearm possession is punishable by a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison.

The Superceding Indictment also charges original defendants Tony Peebles, Daniel Colon, Kyle Eagan and Miguel Moscoso with additional RICO related charges including the murder of a rival street gang member and assault.

Also charged in the original Indictment were Matthew Deynes, Jimmy Sessions, Johnathan Serrano, Michael Bobbitt, Brandon Bobbitt, Renel Velasquez, Douglas Harville, Nourooz Ali, Efrain Barreto, Desmond Ford, Jimmarlan Sessions, Omar Hernandez, Justin Augus, Saul Santana, Melvin Medina, Hector Rodriguez, Cody Busch, Jairo Hernandez, Matthew Smith, and Chazity Fluellen.

Three defendants, Jimmy Reuther, Hiram Lopez and Edwin Rivera, have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

In September, 2010, Justin Augus and Kyle Eagan were charged with violent crimes in aid of racketeering for the murder of Omar Fraticello-Lugo on September 15, 2008 on Busti Avenue; Miguel Moscoso was charged with the murder of Christian Portes on June 13, 2009 on Whitney Place; and Saul Santana was charged with the murder of Anthony Colon on June 26, 2009 on Ullman and Esser. Eleven defendants were also accused of 10 attempted murders of rival gang members and rival gang associates and seven defendants were accused of multiple instances of witness intimidation, assault and robbery. Murder carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

In addition to the violent crimes alleged in the Indictment, the 10th Street Gang is also suspected of being involved in trafficking various controlled substances, including cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy and hydrocodone.

"As both of these case demonstrates, our Office, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to vigorously track down and bring to justice members of any gang that attempt to commit any acts of violence anywhere in our community," said U.S. Attorney Hochul.

The Indictment and Superceding Indictment are the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the FBI under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard W. Kollmar, New York State Police under the direction of Major Christopher Cummings, the Buffalo Police Department under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives under the direction of Frank Christiano. The evidence in both cases was presented to the Grand Jury by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who will handle the trial of the case.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.