The leader of the Roanoke chapter of a national street gang and three associates have been charged with conspiracy to commit murders, robberies, assaults and drug deals to increase the gang’s money and power, according to a federal indictment unsealed Monday.
The government charged two men with murder in two Roanoke killings. More charges could follow, according to officials, who urged the public to continue to report concerns and tips to law enforcement.
“This indictment is only the first step in a coordinated and sustained assault on violent gangs in Roanoke,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen said.
The indictment named the Roanoke branch of the Rollin’ 30s Crips gang and its members who called themselves “gangsters” as they stoked fear since at least April 2017 in northwest Roanoke. With Sean Denzel Guerrant as its leader and Demonte Rashod Mack, Trayvone Raycron Kasey and Chauncey Dion Levesy among its members, the group committed a series of violent acts and drug crimes, according to the charges.
In laying blame for two recent killings, the indictment accused Kasey of killing M.G., whom Cullen identified as Markel Trevon Girty, 23, who was killed Feb. 9. Kasey and Mack are accused of killing N.L., whom Cullen identified as Nickalas Lee, 17, who was shot to death June 15 2017, the indictment said.
Federal prosecutors could seek the death penalty for Kasey and Mack if the men are convicted. Cullen said his office expects to know within a few months whether prosecutors will choose that option.
Cullen spoke about gang crime affecting the larger community.
“The community is victimized anytime you have a violent gang that’s committing robberies, that’s shooting and killing people, that’s distributing drugs, that’s essentially terrorizing a small segment of a particular community,” he said. “That does real harm to those who try to live in those communities, work in those communities and raise children in those communities.”
Court papers said the gang’s center of operations was Lansdowne Park on Salem Turnpike Northwest, a 300-residence community that is the city’s oldest and one of its largest public housing complexes. The Rollin’ 30s maintained a “stash house” in Lansdowne for the conduct of gang business, including drug dealing, court papers said.
David Bustamante, vice president of housing at the authority, said Monday he had received no information that the gang was terrorizing the Lansdowne community. He said he knew nothing of the alleged stash house or of the Rollin’ 30s as an alleged gang threat before reading about the case Monday.
Bustamante said Kasey was arrested at Lansdowne earlier this year and that the authority barred him from the property. It is possible other alleged Rollin’ 30s members also visited Lansdowne, Bustamante said.
But as far as authority officials know, no person listed with the authority as a Lansdowne resident is or was a Rollin’ 30s member, he said. He spoke after reviewing a list of 16 suspected Rollin’ 30s affiliates that police filed in court earlier this year.
Police said local branches of national gangs are a relatively new phenomenon.
“We didn’t see that 10 years ago or 15 years ago,” Cullen said.
Back them, gangs were generally homegrown, a police official said.
Today, they may operate like small companies. The Rollin’ 30s Roanoke chapter held meetings, collected dues and operated according to a hierarchy, court papers said.
Guerrant is accused of leading the gang and assigning members to perform violent missions. Members knew other members by hand signals, tattoos and blue or brown clothing. The branch reported to the Richmond contingent of the Los Angeles-based gang, officials said in court papers.
A task force of local, state and federal law enforcement officers built the case while operating from a renewed effort against gangs and violence dictated from Washington, D.C., by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, officials said.
The Central Virginia Violent Crimes Task Force has 12 to 20 members. Its account of wrongdoing filed in court outlined 30 overt acts that authorities said constitute the evidence of guilt. Among the 30, 20 are posts on Facebook for gang communication and for setting up such things as drug buys and the handoff of firearms, court papers said.
Law enforcement officials admitted they had more work to do. Although all four newly charged defendants are in custody, “there’s no question there are other gang members out there,” Cullen said.
A Sept. 25 grand jury indictment listed five charges: racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, firing a gun in the commission of a violent offense and using and carrying a gun during a crime of violence causing death.
U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Dillon was scheduled to arraign three of the men Tuesday.