SEE ALSO: Crime-fighting initiatives good news for Youngstown
By John W. Goodwin Jr.
Federal authorities have given new meaning to the acronym of the South Side gang they believe they have dismantled.
“To the LSP members, the ride is over. LSP no longer stands for LaClede, Sherwood and Parkview, it now stands for Last Stop Prison,” said Robert Browning, special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
At a press conference Friday in Youngstown City Council’s chambers in city hall, Browning said the list of individuals facing charges in connection with the investigation of the gang is getting longer.
Officials say that number will continue to grow as investigators continue to look into activities of alleged LSP members.
LSP stands for the streets from which the gang ran its suspected criminal enterprise. Browning said the gang has been dismantled.
A 42-count federal indictment released Thursday detailed 23 men facing charges as alleged gang members. Another man — 34-year-old Rashan Bell — has been added to the list of men facing federal charges. Several additional men are facing state charges for their suspected roles as gang members.
Special Agent Kim Riddell, the ATF public information officer, said these people have been apprehended and are facing state charges: Paul Henderson, 27; Davon Johnson, 25; Jawuan Moore, 25; Dante Bebbs, 26; Jeremiah McClarin, 25; Jeremy Tomlin, 24; and Kenneth Whatley, 24.
Those charged federally under the RICO act 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.
Browning said the LSP gang has operated on the South Side for nearly a decade selling drugs and guns and even plotting murder. He said the ATF has been investigating the gang for about two years.
Browning said federal agents stationed in several states along with Youngstown police and members of the adult parole authority rounded up 13 alleged gang members Thursday but did not find any guns or drugs during that sweep.
There are several alleged members whose names have not yet been released and six members — Ballinger II, Carlton Council, Aldric Jones, Michael Jones, Machen Jr. and Rashan Bell — are still at large.
Mayor Jay Williams said the arrest of the more than two dozen men associated with the gang will prevent additional crimes from being committed. He said the fact that most of the men are facing federal charges shows how seriously law enforcement and government officials are taking the crimes.
“By taking LSP off of the streets, we are going to give the streets back to the law-abiding citizens,” the mayor said.
U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said the arrest of the gang members under the RICO act is a continuing effort by federal agents and local law enforcement to go after the “worst of the worst” criminals operating in neighborhoods throughout the area.
Dettelbach detailed instances where LSP gang members committed serious crimes in the area including a drive-by shooting on East Judson in 2009, the beating and pistol whipping of a man last year, and the shooting of another man in 2008.
“This is a group of people who shot indiscriminately, sold drugs and wore bulletproof vests,” Dettelbach said. “We are working together. We are working hard, and we are not going to give an inch in this fight.”
Police Chief Jimmy Hughes said officers still see a lot of gang activity such as “tagging” neighborhoods with graffiti and retaliation, but the gangs have changed in some respects.
The chief made mention of the LSP members’ using MySpace and other Internet venues as a means of bragging about their criminal exploits.