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Mobtown Beat

Busting “Bubbles”

Feds take whacks at the Black Guerrilla Family prison gang’s street-level operations in Baltimore

As a man with a reputedly high-stress career robbing drug dealers and kidnapping their children for ransom, it’s perhaps no surprise that Antonio “Tank Top” Davis suffers from migraine headaches for which he takes daily medication, according to court records. His head must’ve hurt all the more last fall, when, after Davis joined a scheme to rob a drug dealer—and proposed, once the robbery was done, doing the same to the “Fat Man” who’d hatched the plan and demanded a 50-50 split—he learned upon being arrested that it had been a setup by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Investigations Group (DEA/SIG) in Baltimore.

DEA/SIG has been targeting the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gang’s “bubbles,” its on-the-streets cells said to be responsible for drug-dealing and violence in Baltimore neighborhoods, and it is well-positioned to do so. Its institutional knowledge of the BGF—a national gang founded in the 1960s by George Jackson, a California inmate and author who sought to instill dignity through pursuing a black-separatist agenda—was built during its exhaustive work leading to a series of federal indictments in 2009 and 2010 against dozens of BGF members in prison and on the streets, along with their enablers working as correctional officers in the prison system. But not every BGF member identified in DEA/SIG’s investigative documents was indicted in the initial cases—including Davis. In the months and years since, though, many have faced subsequent federal charges.

In court documents in the 2009/2010 cases, it emerged that DEA/SIG was aware of Davis’ involvement with the BGF’s on-the-streets operations since at least 2009, when he was described as a central player in an intra-gang probe into missing funds in which one of DEA/SIG’s confidential sources was accused of running a “renegade wolf pack.” Davis was present during a gang proceeding held at the Homestead Street home of BGF “field marshal” Kimberly McIntosh, when the confidential source was found guilty of stealing BGF funds and sentenced to a “two-minute body beating from various BGF members.”

Thus, with Davis’ arrest last fall in the robbery scheme, DEA/SIG could add his name to its list of BGF members who’d been described in court documents in the 2009/2010 probe as active in the gang’s street-level criminal schemes but were charged later with other crimes. Among them are:

Gregory “Joe” Fitzgerald. Described as a “key lieutenant” for the BGF’s street-level drug-dealing, Fitzgerald was initially arrested in January 2009, before the initial BGF indictment came down, in a separate cocaine-conspiracy case. After those charges were dismissed, Fitzgerald was charged and pleaded guilty to participating in another coke conspiracy, for which he was sentenced to 126 months in prison.

Austin “Yellow” Roberts. Another “key lieutenant” described as a main BGF drug supplier in the 2009 probe, Roberts was indicted in an Eastern Shore drug conspiracy in 2011 and remained a fugitive until December 2012, when he was arrested in San Diego. After pleading guilty, in August he received a 19-year prison sentence.

Matthew “Gene” Talley. Mentioned by a DEA/SIG confidential informant during debriefings between 2008 and 2010 as among seven BGF members working with the gang’s “citywide commander,” Donnie Duncan, in 2012 Talley pleaded guilty to federal charges for an armed robbery of a RadioShack on Harford Road. He received a 150-month prison sentence.

Robert “Seattle” Jones. A DEA/SIG confidential informant included Jones’ name and phone number in a list of BGF members that emerged in court documents in 2010. Also in 2010, federal prosecutors obtained Jones’ DNA under a warrant for suspicion of killing a federal informant, though he was never charged. Instead, he was indicted for an armed robbery of a Westport drug dealer’s home, during which a woman and her baby were held at gunpoint. Jones pleaded guilty and received a 15-year prison sentence.

Davis took the armed-robbery charges to a jury, refusing to plead guilty as his co-defendants—Rodney “Hot Rod” Proctor, Sean “Cracks” Thornton, Michael “Merc” Johnson, and Jazmen Trusty aka Tyrone Brown—had done. After a four-day trial in August, he was found guilty and has filed a notice of appeal while awaiting his sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 6.

Meanwhile, two weeks after the jury found Davis guilty, DEA/SIG charged his alleged drug supplier—Keith Corey “Iddy” Jones—with heroin distribution, including a transaction that allegedly occurred at the Royal Farms Store on Key Highway and another that allegedly took place in Federal Hill. The charging document explains that Jones was “the source of supply for the BGF ‘bubbles’ operating in South Baltimore” and had taken over that role after the prior “prominent source of supply,” 29-year-old Harry Hicks, who reportedly worked as a youth football coach at the Patapsco Recreation Center, in 2011 was murdered in front of his wife and children in Cherry Hill. In addition to supplying Davis, the complaint says that Jones provided drugs for another alleged BGF member, Robert “Dill” Tillman, who currently is facing armed-robbery charges in state court and is scheduled for trial in November.

Like Davis, another BGF member identified in the 2009/2010 investigation—Greyling Chase, who was named with Talley as among seven BGF members working under Duncan—fell for another DEA/SIG setup to rob a drug dealer, according to court documents. In discussing the scheme, Chase talked of the possible need to “burn the nigger,” meaning kill the target drug dealer. “If we gonna have to do him,” Chase said, “we gonna do him in the best way we can,” adding that “I’ll go somewhere and dig a hole” to “throw his ass in, stripping him down and throw his ass in there.”

Chase is being detained pending trial—adding yet another name to the list of subjects in the 2009/2010 BGF probe that have since been taken off the streets by DEA/SIG as it seeks to burst the gang’s bubbles. In exposing the level of violence and criminality its members engage in, DEA/SIG may also be showing how far local BGF members have strayed from George Jackson’s vision.

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