Six members of a Southeast Washington gang known as the 1-5 Mob have been arrested on armed-robbery charges and are suspected of holding up as many as 20 clothing stores in Prince George's County, the District and Northern Virginia, authorities said yesterday.
Prince George's and D.C. police said they also have issued warrants for the arrest of six other people accused of taking part in a gang that has stolen thousands of articles of clothing, including jeans and shoes, from shops throughout the region since October.
Investigators said the robbers would scout out businesses for name-brand merchandise, such as Parasuco jeans, and then return to rush the store in groups of 10 or 12 people. While some of the suspects would threaten the clerks with knives or Mace, the rest would grab as much as they could from racks and shelves. Most of the heists lasted no more than two minutes, police said.
"They would swarm the store," said Prince George's Police Chief John S. Farrell, who announced the arrests yesterday. "This was a very successfully developed and thought-out operation. It required surveillance and intelligence and a network to distribute these items quickly."
Farrell said the gang quickly fenced the merchandise through street vendors and roadside sales. At least $40,000 worth of clothing was stolen from Prince George's County alone, police said.
Authorities said the 1-5 Mob draws its name from its original base at 15th Place and Alabama Avenue in Southeast Washington.
In January, 14 other alleged members of the gang were indicted in U.S. District Court in Washington on racketeering, narcotics and other charges. Prosecutors said the group was responsible for at least seven killings and 20 shootings over several years as they waged war with rival gangs for control of the local cocaine trade.
"This is a group of goons that needs to be off the street," said D.C. Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer.
Prince George's police said they received a flood of tips identifying the suspects after their Crimesolvers program released a security camera videotape of a robbery in Oxon Hill this month. The tape shows about a dozen robbers swarming through the Fashion Times shop in the Eastover Shopping Center in Oxon Hill, snatching hundreds of articles of clothing.
District police arrested four of the suspects Wednesday and charged them with robbery. They were identified as Walter Andrew Douglas, 20, of the 3200 block of Stanton Road SE; Antonio Douglas, 18, of the same address; Derrick Markies Dorsey, 24, of the 1500 block of Alabama Avenue SE; and Aaron Terrell Thomas of the 2200 block of Savannah Terrace SE.
Prince George's police arrested two suspects Wednesday on armed-robbery charges: Michael Anthony Williams, 31, of the 1500 block of Bruce Place SE, and Cory T. Joyner, 29, of the 800 block of R Street NW.
"We hope these arrests will end these types of heinous acts and end the terrorizing of these shopping centers by a very brazen group of thugs," Farrell said.
Prince George's police said they have issued arrest warrants for six other suspects from Southeast Washington. The six, who are charged with armed robbery, were identified as Howard Lee Wilder, 21; Chancey Levon Coleman, 37; Dawayne Marcia Dancy, 25; Marcus Antonio Truman II, 18; Joe Ellis, 22; and Keith Jordal Archie, age unknown.
Police said the 1-5 Mob is suspected of 12 robberies and thefts at 10 clothing stores in Prince George's County. They also are being investigated in connection with a store robbery at Pentagon City, four heists in Georgetown and several others in the District.
Shop owners said news of the arrests came as a big relief.
"There's a certain amount of fear that has been inflicted upon the merchants," said Warren Goodwine, property manager at Eastover Shopping Center. "Now I don't have to look at the sad faces of the merchants anymore."