Eight alleged members of a Bloods street gang have been indicted under Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering statutes, the first time these provisions have been used in Colorado, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Denver police and Aurora police announced Tuesday.
The charges include conspiracy to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, brandishing a firearm and attempted murder and are related to incidents that occurred in 2014 and 2015.
Six of the eight suspects already were in custody on other charges. They are in their early 20s, but the Bloods organization has had a presence in Colorado since the early 1990s, according to an indictment.
The attempted murder charge is related to an incident on Nov. 20, 2014. Investigators also linked the gang to a shooting that left two people dead at a carwash in 2014. The conspiracy to commit murder charges are related to the attempted murder and two incidents in 2015.
Eight other people have been indicted on charges of possessing a firearm as a felon as a result of the same investigation.
“The VICAR indictment alleges the Bloods are an enterprise whose business is violence, including murder,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
The gang members were most active in North Park Hill, law enforcement officials said.
The investigation used “cutting-edge forensic tools to identify the most violent Bloods gang members,” the press release said. Those include shell-casing analysis, acoustic gunshot detection technology and cell phone and social media information.
Police used ShotSpotter to collect shell casings from shootings of all sorts, including those in which no one was injured, and ran ballistics tests on the casings. They then got warrants for social media platforms like Snapchat to find people bragging about, say, shooting a stop sign, and connected the forensic characteristics of particular guns to particular individuals. That evidence was used to identify “serial shooters” who fired their weapons a lot, including sometimes at other people.
“Violence breeds fear,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said. The goal is to “take out this select group, the select shooters.”
Members of the gang also allegedly sold cocaine, ecstasy, codeine, Xanax and marijuana, and they allegedly “advertised women, including those under the age of 18,” in an online ploy to rob people.
Lakewood police, U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also participated in the investigation.
The suspects charged under VICAR are:
- Jason Harris, 20, aka Whoopti, aka Murder Whoop
- Isaac Jonathan Hernandez, 20, aka JB, aka Hillsidx Hitta
- Xavier Davon Claypool, 22, aka X
- Michael Byrd, 22, aka Rich Porter, aka Mike Savage
- Theophus Williams, 20, aka Low Chapo, aka William Theophus
- Keandre Mims, 22, aka Hillside Suave
- Bryce Wilhite, 22, aka Kapone, aka Kapone Makaveli Hound, aka Kapone Poloninethe, aka Polosaucxtwin Dutch
- Aaron Wilhite, 22, aka Twin NoSurrender NoRetreat
The violent incidents identified in the indictment were:
- Two of the defendants are accused of attempting to commit murder on Nov. 20, 2014. Investigators say a man was shot in the back while sitting in a car near an apartment building.
- Three of the defendants were arrested last year on accusations that they were involved in an attempted murder on Jan. 28, 2015 in Montbello. Shots were fired at a home, resulting in a car chase that ended when the suspects’ vehicle hit a building, according to the Denver Post.
- Two later incidents, on March 23 and Aug. 5, 2015, were said to be related to home invasions involving guns in Arapahoe and Douglas counties. One of the attempted murder conspiracy charges is connected to the August incident.