By John W. Goodwin Jr.
Nearly two dozen city residents are facing federal felony charges related to gang activity ranging from drug trafficking to conspiracy to commit murder.
The federal indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, targets members and associates of the LSP Street Gang on the city’s South Side.
The 23 people listed in the 42-count indictment are facing a laundry list of charges, including carrying illegal firearms and theft, but ATF agents say the crimes will fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act statute.
“The primary statute that these individuals are charged under is a RICO. It’s a federal charge used to charge criminal organizations engaged in certain criminal activity,” said Special Agent Kim Riddell, public information officer for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “This is a criminal organization that has used violence and intimidation to further their criminal enterprise.”
The ATF and Youngstown police conducted the investigation. The indictment was unsealed Thursday.
Those charged are Youngstown residents DaQuann Hackett, Derrick Johnson Jr., Aldric Jones, Dominique Callier, Richard Ivy, Andre Ballinger II, Van Lightning, Terrance Machen Jr., Tyrell Oliver, Nalemn Hasley, James Neail, Marques Duvall, Melvin Johnson III, Corey Council, Carlton Council Jr., Braylyn Williams, Michael Jones, Wayne Kerns, Maurise Kerns, Edward Campbell III, Ryan Davis, Shawn Jones and Tre’von Mason.
Of the 23 people listed in the indictment, 18 are in police custody or already in prison.
Ballinger II, Carlton Council, Aldric Jones, Michael Jones and Machen Jr. are still at large. Police and the FBI are encouraging the men to surrender to authorities and asking the public to call 1-800-ATF-GUNS if they know where the men might be.
According to the indictment, “LSP” stands for the streets from which the gang ran its suspected criminal enterprise — LaClede, Sherwood, Parkview and Princeton avenues.
The indictment names Hackett and Derrick Johnson Jr. as leaders of the criminal enterprise, and they directed other members and associates to conduct various crimes, including murder.
The indictment claims one of the primary gang activities was drug distribution — the means by which most of the members generated income.
Gang members routinely armed themselves to protect their territory, drug trade and to retaliate against rival gangs. LSP also routinely sold firearms, according to the indictment.
The indictment claims that LSP members referred to themselves as family and would routinely tattoo “LSP” on their bodies to show a lifelong gang allegiance.
The gang, authorities said, would often use MySpace.com to promote their criminal activity by posting gang-related photographs and writings. Some members of the gang allegedly wrote and performed rap songs detailing criminal activity.
Three men already have been convicted in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court of a shooting involving alleged LSP activity.
Kerns, 20, Callier, 19, and Derrick Johnson Jr., 20, each pleaded guilty to a felonious-assault charge and criminal gang specifications in relation to a shooting on the city’s South Side in March 2009.
According to Vindicator files, Sherrick Jackson, 20, of East Judson Avenue was shot in the neck while in the front yard of an East Judson home. John Mitchell, 27, no address given, was shot in his left leg while in a sport-utility vehicle in the driveway of the same address. Both men survived their injuries.
A woman who lives at the house told officers the shooting was gang-related, reports said.
Several shots were fired at the house from two vehicles. When officers arrived, they found a maroon 1998 Buick in the street with all four doors open and keys in the ignition.
Kerns and Johnson are serving five years in prison for their roles in the crime. Callier is serving a seven-year sentence. They were sentenced in February.