A state grand jury late Wednesday indicted six alleged members of the “6th Ward Wild Side” gang, accusing them of a racketeering conspiracy that wraps together a half-dozen murders from 2011 and 2012, along with other crimes allegedly committed to bolster a thriving heroin and cocaine business.
The 15-count indictment describes a gang, also known as the “Wild Side Gangstas,” or WSG, that it says mercilessly gunned down rival gang members who the WSG thought had stolen from them or called hits on WSG members.
It also says members of the group hooked up with accused members of other notorious New Orleans street gangs.
One of the indicted men, 23-year-old Damion “Small Face” Abram, allegedly traded a .40-caliber pistol he used in the execution-style murders of Dereck Howard and Darryl Long on Jan. 26, 2012, with McCoy “Rat” Walker, an alleged “3NG” gang member named in a similar indictment handed up last year.
Walker was among four men more recently indicted in the high-profile 2010 killing of popular local bounce rapper Renatta “Magnolia Shorty” Lowe and Jerome “Man Man” Hampton.
Another alleged WSG member, Trey “Trigga” Mitchell, 22, was given a silver Nissan Maxima that members of the “110’ers” gang allegedly used in a May 29, 2012, Central City shooting spree that claimed the lives of 5-year-old Briana Allen and 33-year-old Shawanna Pierce.
According to the indictment, Mitchell rode with Sam “Lil” Newman around the time in June 2012 that Newman gunned down Jonathan “Kruga” Lewis in Gentilly, less than two weeks after Newman and others allegedly fired on Briana and Pierce.
Newman, now 19, was sentenced last month to a life prison term after a jury convicted him in Lewis’ murder.
The new indictment marks the latest bid by Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office to corral suspected gang members in a broad conspiracy covering a range of crimes over time, using a once-obscure state law that mirrors a federal statute created to go after the Mafia.
Defense advocates argue that the indictments often go too far, trying to draw outlying associates into weighty prosecutions with nebulous evidence that they were involved in the violent gang activity at the core of the indictments.
The latest document alleges numerous drugs and weapons crimes as well as home invasions and murders on the part of the six WSG members. Along with Abram and Mitchell, it names Rashad “Shad” Bakewell, 26; Blake “Blizzy” Ricks, 25; Randell Marshall, 23; and Joseph Marshall, 28.
All six are named in the first two counts, which allege a far-reaching racketeering conspiracy that includes 28 “overt acts” and a conspiracy to distribute heroin.
The other counts mostly involve murder.
Abram and Bakewell are accused of killing Alfred “Nuck Jr.” Dixon, a suspected member of the rival “4th Ward Goonies” gang, on Nov. 17, 2011.
Abram and a co-conspirator identified only as “C.C.” are accused of gunning down Howard and Long in the 2600 block of D’Abadie Street on Jan. 26, 2012. Joseph Marshall and Bakewell, charged as accessories after the fact, allegedly waited nearby to help them get away.
Marshall, 28, already pleaded guilty this year to one of the murders described in the indictment. In April, he received a 28-year prison sentence in the June 10, 2012, killing of David Peters in the 7900 block of Olive Street.
The indictment claims Abram and Bakewell conspired in that murder, with Bakewell providing Marshall with a semi-automatic handgun. The group allegedly suspected Peters was cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation of the murders of Howard and Long seven months earlier.
The indictment says Bakewell also tried to kill Alfred “Big Nuck” Bryant on May 22, 2012, and that he succeeded in killing Demetrious Adams on Dec. 27, 2012.
According to the indictment, Bakewell and Ricks spotted a member of the rival “Ride or Die” gang who was thought to have killed a WSG member, Darrien Delatte, three days earlier.
Bakewell chased the rival, who escaped with help from Adams. So Bakewell killed Adams, the indictment states.
According to the indictment, members of the WSG posted messages and photos on popular social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, flashing their sign: an open hand displaying five fingers, plus a middle finger on the second hand — indicating “their 6th Ward allegiance.”
All six were behind bars late Wednesday. Several of them already were in jail on various charges.
Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman set bail for all six defendants Wednesday, with Abram and Bakewell receiving the highest figures. Herman set bail for Abram, who was named in nine of the 15 counts, at $5 million. Bakewell was named in 11 counts. The judge set his bail at $4.7 million.