Thirteen members of Peoria street gang convicted

Chronicle Media

A jury has convicted 13 members of the Peoria street gang known as Bomb Squad for conspiracy to organize and operate the gang as a criminal enterprise that has plagued the Peoria community with gun violence for years.

The violent acts included murder, attempted murder, arson and drug trafficking. After the presentation of seven weeks of evidence, the jury deliberated for three days before returning the guilty verdicts Dec. 17.

“These convictions represent the dedication and commitment of our law enforcement partners and serve to signal to others our pledge to continue to work together to investigate and prosecute those who commit violent acts in our community,” said U.S. Attorney John Milhiser. “There is no higher priority than keeping our communities safe.”

Milhiser also recognized U.S. Marshal Brendan Heffner and his team: “The Marshals Service has done tremendous work during this lengthy trial to manage 13 defendants in custody and maintain security throughout the trial.”

“These guilty verdicts and potentially long sentences these violent criminals face is reassuring to the communities they terrorized that law enforcement is on their side,” commented Tim Jones, special agent with the Chicago Field Office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  “We will continue to relentlessly pursue these cases in collaboration with our local partners and appreciate the diligence the U.S. Attorney’s Office dedicated to bringing these criminals to justice.”

Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion stated: “The Peoria Police Department recognizes the hard work and effort that went into this case. I would personally like to commend the officers and agencies involved in this investigation for the outstanding work that was done. Due to their hard work, several of Peoria’s most violent criminals have been taken off the street and they will no longer be able to inflict violence upon our community.”

The defendants were convicted of federal racketeering conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Under the RICO statute, the indictment alleged and the jury found, that from 2013 to the present, members and associates of Bomb Squad engaged in acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assault and arson, to protect itself, its members and associates from rival gangs and to protect the standing and reputation of Bomb Squad.

Individuals convicted of RICO conspiracy are: Eugene Haywood, 25; Raevaughn Rogers, 20; Kenwan Crowe, 21; Ezra Johnson, 24; Jahlin Wilson, 23; Andre Neal-Ford, 21; Lance Washington, 23; Torieuanno White, 25; Sherman Williams, 25; Lloyd Dotson, 29; Keith Gregory, 20; Mytrez Flora, 25; and Kentrevion Watkins, 21.

Sentencing of the defendants has been scheduled for mid-June. At sentencing, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison with several facing more lengthy prison sentences including up to life.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Peoria Police Department conducted the investigation with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Illinois State Police.

The charges are the result of an ongoing investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies working together to identify, disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations and violent street gangs.

This case was prosecuted under Project Safe Neighborhoods, a federal program designed to bring together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone. The program was reinvigorated in 2017 as part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s renewed focus on targeting each community’s most violent criminals.