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Saint Paul Gang Members Indicted for Gun Conspiracy

Friday, November 18, 2016 13:58
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(Before It's News)


United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Jim Modzelewski and Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell today announced a federal indictment charging five members of a criminal street gang known as the Hit Squad for conspiring to illegally possess firearms.[1]
“This indictment is part of an innovative strategy to combat gang violence in our state,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “Working with our partners at the ATF and Saint Paul Police Department, prosecutors from this office are going after the gang members and their illegal guns. Together, we are making communities safer, neighborhood by neighborhood.”
“Our goal is to significantly reduce or eliminate gang violence in St. Paul and other communities in our area of responsibility,” said James Modzelewski, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ St. Paul Field Division. “We are committed to protecting communities from gun violence and will pursue violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. The ATF is proud to work alongside the men and women of the St. Paul Police Department who have made reducing gang violence a priority in their city. Additionally, we wouldn’t have had such a successful investigation without the assistance of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office who helped us out early on in the case. With the strong partnership between these agencies, more can be done to make Saint Paul a safer place for everyone.”
“Gang and gun violence is an insidious problem that rips at the fabric of our community,” said Axtell. “This indictment is a testament to a region-wide commitment to holding accountable those who put children, community members and others in danger with their careless disregard for the law, civility and safety of others. We are thankful for the other agencies who helped secure the indictment and look forward to continued efforts to keep our streets safe.”
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, the Hit Squad originated in 2010 in Saint Paul’s Westside neighborhood. The main purpose of the Hit Squad gang is to prevent rival gang members from entering or being within Hit Squad “territory.” Hit Squad members obtain money through the commission of crimes such as armed robbery, illegal drug distribution, burglary, theft, and other violent crimes. Hit Squad members often use the proceeds of these illegal activities to purchase firearms. They also steal firearms, trade drugs for guns, and share guns with one another.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, the five Hit Squad members indicted today, including TYVION WAYNE BENSON, a/k/a “Tavi,” MICHAEL TREVINO, a/k/a “Mike Mike,” JOHN WELSEY EPPS, a/k/a “King Savage,” DAMARIUS DANTE GILBERT, a/k/a “Boss Sleep,” and KENDALL DVONTAE PRUITT, a/k/a “Tinki,” conspired together and with others to illegally obtain and jointly possess firearms.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, between at least July 2014 and November 7, 2016, members of the Hit Squad were in a gang war with rival gangs including the “Ho’s and Money” (HAM) Crazy gang. This gang war has resulted in the shooting of several gang members of both sides of the conflict.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, the indicted co-conspirators were involved in drive-by shootings and other shootouts in Saint Paul. They illegally possessed firearms near the Arlington Hills Recreation Center in Saint Paul, in common areas outside of residential apartment complexes and while driving around various neighborhoods in Saint Paul.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, the indicted co-conspirators conspired to illegally possess at least 14 handguns during the indicted period.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Saint Paul Police Department, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey S. Paulsen and Benjamin Bejar are prosecuting the case.
Defendant Information:                                                                                                                    
DAMARIUS DANTE GILBERT, a/k/a “Boss Sleep,” 20
Charges:
    Conspiracy – Felon in possession of a firearm, 1 count
    Felon in possession of a firearm, 2 counts
TYVION WAYNE BENSON, a/k/a “Tavi,” 22
 Charges:
    Conspiracy – Felon in possession of a firearm, 1 count
    Felon in possession of a firearm, 1 count
JOHN WELSEY EPPS, a/k/a “King Savage,” 21
Charges:
    Conspiracy – Felon in possession of a firearm, 1 count
    Felon in possession of a firearm, 1 count
KENDALL DVONTAE PRUITT, a/k/a “Tinki,” 19
Saint Paul, Minn.
Charges:
    Conspiracy – Felon in possession of a firearm, 1 count
    Felon in possession of a firearm, 1 count
MICHAEL TREVINO, a/k/a “Mike Mike,” 21
Charges:
    Conspiracy – Felon in Possession of a Firearm, 1 count

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