Six alleged Bloods gang members who “terrorized” the Riverhead area for nearly a decade were arrested Wednesday morning on multiple charges, including murder, following an investigation by the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force.
A superseding indictment was unsealed in federal court in Central Islip Wednesday charging the six members of the Red Stone Gorillas “set” of the Bloods street gang, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Four of the defendants were arrested Wednesday morning. The gang’s alleged leader, Jimmy Dean, 41, of Calverton and Terrill Latney, 39, of Riverhead were already in custody, federal officials said.
The defendants were tied to the 2015 murder of 27-year-old Thomas Lacolla, who was shot and killed in a vehicle outside a Riverhead home. The intended victim was a different person, officials said. Mr. Dean had issued the order for the killing and Mr. Latney and others carried out the botched murder, officials said. Mr. Lacolla was sitting in the intended victim’s car.
The intended victim, whose name is revealed in a court document, had been arrested in 2014 for allegedly beating a woman at a Riverhead bar. It’s unclear if the attempted murder is related to that event.
Also arrested were Corey Belcher, 34, of Riverhead; Willie Belcher, 33, of Flanders; Roger Foster, 22, of Baiting Hollow and Eric Ross, 27, of Flanders.
They are charged with racketeering, murder, robberies, narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses, officials said.
“These are extremely dangerous gang members who are responsible not only for conspiring to commit murder, but for consistently driving crime on the East End through drug dealing and illegal firearm offenses,” Suffolk County district attorney Timothy Sini said in a statement.
The gang members allegedly distributed large quantities of crack cocaine, powder cocaine and heroin in the Riverhead area, officials said.
On Aug. 1, 2015, Mr. Foster and others shot and wounded a suspected member of the rival Crips gang and a female bystander, officials said. Mr. Dean was arrested in 2016 at which point Mr. Latney, Mr. Foster and others assumed control of the gang’s drug distribution operations.
Mr. Latney is described as Mr. Dean’s “right hand man” in the distribution of large quantities of cocaine.
The defendants face maximum sentences of up to life imprisonment.
“We truly appreciate the unprecedented cooperation and assistance from our federal, state and county law enforcement partners in helping us to remove these criminals from our local communities here on the East End of Long Island,” Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said in a statement.
The FBI assistant director-in-charge, William Sweeney, said the arrests were the culmination of several years of “intensive investigation.”
“These subjects have allegedly created such a violent environment in parts of the town where they operate that they were dealing out in the open without fear,” Mr. Sweeney said.
He described the arrests as a “huge dent” in the operation.
Mr. Latney was among 15 people arrested in November 2018 following a multi-agency investigation into street gangs and narcotics in Riverhead. That arrest spearheaded the latest round of arrests.
Mr. Foster has a long history of arrests dating back to his teenage years as a student at Riverhead High School. He allegedly robbed a man at gunpoint in Flanders in 2014 when he was 17, according to prior reports. Last year he was arrested by Riverhead police for possession of a loaded firearm. He pleaded guilty in August to a felony charge of criminal possession of a firearm and was due to be sentenced Nov. 14, according to online court records.
The four defendants arrested Wednesday were arraigned before U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert. The two defendants already in custody were to be arraigned at a later date.
“Through murder, assaults and drug sales, these members and associates of the Bloods’ Red Stone Gorillas posed a grave danger to communities on eastern Long Island,” said Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The Red Stone Gorillas, known as the Stones, allegedly had a rivalry not only with the Crips, but also with members of other sets of the Bloods such as the Nine Trey Gangsters and Low Rider Brims, which operated in and around Riverhead, according to the indictment.
The charges listed against them in the latest indictment outline conspiracies to murder to four different people. Between November 2014 and July 2016, Mr. Dean, Mr. Latney, Mr. Ross and Willie Belcher conspired to kill a person identified as John Doe #1, according to the indictment. A second charge is listed for a John Doe #2.
Around July 3, 2016, Mr. Dean, Mr. Ross and others conspired to cause the death of an individual identified as John Doe #4.
The indictment lists 19 counts against the defendants.
Corey Belcher has one prior conviction for misdemeanor criminal possession of a controlled substance and Willie Belcher has one prior conviction for marijuana possession, according to court documents. Mr. Ross has two prior felony convictions. Most recently he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon in 2017.
Photo caption: Police on scene of the fatal shooting in 2015 on Old Quogue Road. (Credit: file photo)
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