Over the last decade, members of the "Grimmie Gang" so controlled the drug trade in Avondale that if you sold drugs there, you had to pay them a street tax."If you didn't, they'd kill you," Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher Jr. said.
An indication of the gang's brutality came Thursday when nine of its members were indicted in Hamilton County for murder involving five separate killings. "This was a very bad group," Streicher said."Their original intention when they started out ... was to take a name that showed they were dirty and grimy and willing to do anything."
Thursday's homicide indictments came a day after several members of the gang, also called the "A-1 Darkside," were sentenced to from five to 30 years on drug-related charges in federal court. Eight of the gang members received a total of 134 years on the federal court drug convictions.Indicted Thursday for murder were:
Jeffrey "Nice" or "Nite Nite" Pitts, 26, of South Fairmount.
Gino "G" Freeman, 28, of Avondale.
Charles "Little Charlie" Murrell, of the West End.
"Big Head" Brandon Rice, of Northside.
Tristin "G.A." Regland, of Evanston.
Quincy "Q Ball" Jones, of Madisonville.
Alphonso "Pretty Al" Ingersol, 32, of North Avondale.
John Brown, of Fairmount.
Dameon "Dumb Dino" Caesar, of the West End.
Each was indicted on at least one murder charge. Each murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison
"This was relentless police work by the Cincinnati Police Department," Prosecutor Joe Deters said
Cincinnati police have been investigating the notorious gang, known as major players in the local heroin and cocaine markets, for years but were unable to get close.
That changed when the feds got involved.The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney's office started helping the locals.The federal agencies were able to obtain wiretaps on gang members' phones.Fred Alverson, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Greg Lockhart, said federal officials handled the drug and racketeering investigation while local authorities focused on the homicides. He said the work paid off because the investigation of one crime often led to another.
"That's the beauty of a joint investigation," Alverson said. "You can clear up a lot of crimes in one investigation."The size and scope of the gang posed a threat to the entire community. "The people who should be relieved are the folks who live in the neighborhood," Alverson said.And it may not be the end.
"These are cases that otherwise would not have been solved," Streicher said. "We're convinced that they're either tied to, involved in or have knowledge of other homicides."In the first homicide case Thursday, Pitts and Murrell are accused of the Nov. 26, 2002, killing of bootleg cabbie Charles Barfield.
Pitts, the gang's enforcer, and Murrell wanted a ride to a place they planned to rob. When Barfield refused to take them in his cab, the indictment alleges they shot Barfield in the head, killing him.Rice and Regland are also accused in the July 31, 2005, killing of Luke "Dread Luke" Gamble.Gamble was believed to be a drug dealer shot to death by Rice and Regland when they tried to rob him, the indictment alleges.Freeman, Rice and Jones are accused of the July 6, 2005, killing of Jamal "Mac Mal" Anderson.Anderson was the owner of Humble Bee's Chicken Stand and, authorities believed, a drug dealer. Grimmie Gang members accused Anderson of stealing four ounces of cocaine from Freeman nine years earlier.The indictment alleges Jones shot and killed Anderson after Freeman promised to forgive a $3,000 debt Jones owed him. Anderson was sitting in his car when he was killed.The fourth murder indictment accuses Rice, Ingersol and Jones of getting into a July 12, 2005, gun battle with another man and fatally shooting Cleveland Parker, 57, who lived upstairs from the intended target.
The last case perhaps best exemplifies the violent world in which the gang members thrived.
Drug dealer Antonio Whitehead was angry when he fronted Freeman a large amount of cocaine and Freeman ultimately refused to pay for the drugs.
An irate Whitehead put out a contract on Freeman, seeking to have him killed. When Freeman found out, the indictment alleges, Freeman put out a hit on Whitehead.
Brown and Caesar are accused of gunning Whitehead down March 17, 2005, as he sat in his car in a drive-through.
Three of the gang members - Pitts, Freeman and Regland - were indicted last year in Hamilton County on yet another homicide.They are accused of the July 24, 2005, killing of Gregory Ellis. Ellis was a rival drug dealer who police say was killed after being robbed of money and jewelry.
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