New Orleans — Several members of a violent Harvey drug gang could face life in prison after pleading guilty to federal racketeering charges Friday.
U.S. Attorney Dana Boente’s Office announced the guilty pleas of five of 11 people originally indicted as members of the “Harvey Hustlers,” a West Bank gang that authorities have accused of committing several homicides to protect their illegal narcotics business.
Travis Hudson, 29; Roderick Wiggins, 22; Shayne Leblanc, 40; Torey Richarson, 21; and Akai Sullivan, 27, all pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lance Africk.
Hudson, Wiggins and Richardson admitted to violating the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act and other narcotics charges and could face life in prison.
Sullivan admitted to obstruction of justice, while Leblanc admitted to a narcotics violation. They both face maximum prison terms of 20 years.
The cases against the other six individuals accused of being members of the gang are still ongoing, said Anne Christman, a spokeswoman for Boente’s office.
When authorities announced the sweeping 22-count indictment against the Hustlers, and their violation faction the “Murder Squad,” officials with the FBI, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office accused the group of driving the narcotics trade and gun violence in Harvey’s Scotsdale and Haydel neighborhoods.
The indictment accused the group of creating a network to distribute cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy and marijuana, while also committing kidnappings, shootings and a homicide.
Federal officials described the gang members in their indictment as extremely brutal and included roughly 100 overt criminal acts committed by members, including witness intimidation.
However, relatives of the suspects scoffed at the idea that they operated some sort of complicated criminal enterprise, calling them nothing but small-time drug dealers, with little education or money.
They noted most of the men spent so much time in and out of jail they had little time to conduct any business.
In fact, Sullivan, who was accused of holding guns and transporting drugs for the group, said she never saw any evidence of a lavish lifestyle when she dated Melvin Hudson, another indicted man.
Federal prosecutors are still pursuing cases against Dante Carson, Dwight Carson, Jermaine Hudson, Melvin Hudson, Moses Lawson, Tedrick Reynard and Monterrio Wiggins.
Many of the suspects are related and have lived in the Harvey area most of their lives.