Affidavit Places Spotlight On Gang

Smuggling Alleged In Md. Prisons

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 18, 2009

An unlikely meeting unfolded this week not far from the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

About 100 people gathered in a park for what authorities say was an open-air meeting of the Black Guerilla Family, the gang at the center of a newly disclosed federal investigation into smuggling in Maryland's state prisons.

After police broke up the gathering in Druid Hill Park, a leader of the gang scolded a subordinate for holding the meeting in such a way that it drew the attention of police, federal prosecutors said in an affidavit.

"I been tellin' you and tellin' you and you ain't listenin'," Eric Brown, speaking from a Baltimore prison, told Rainbow Williams in a phone conversation.

Federal agents were listening, though -- on wiretaps.

Informants had given investigators cellphone numbers for several imprisoned BGF members, including Brown, according to an affidavit filed in court.

Federal prosecutors thrust a spotlight on the gang Thursday by unsealing indictments against 24 alleged members and associates, including Brown, Williams and four current or former state prison employees.

BGF, as it is known, was founded in 1966 in San Quentin State Prison in California. It is the biggest and most powerful prison gang in Maryland, where its smuggling operation is unrivaled, authorities said.

"The BGF runs the prison system when it comes to controlling contraband," said Capt. Phil Smith, assistant director of the state prison system's intelligence unit.

In Maryland, BGF has been involved in extortion and the smuggling of drugs and other contraband, sometimes with the help of guards, often for the purpose of selling to other inmates, prosecutors say. The gang's leaders have also indulged more decadent tastes, arranging for deliveries of champagne, salmon and crab imperial.

But after decades of operating primarily behind bars, BGF has been establishing a bigger presence on the streets of Baltimore, expanding its footprint into the city's volatile narcotics trade, prosecutors said.

Like some other prison gangs, BGF fashions itself as a movement, Smith said.

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