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Racketeering guilty pleas for alleged Pittsburgh gang members

A U.S. District judge in Pittsburgh will sentence four men this summer for crimes associated with racketeering. The men, alleged members of the Crips street gang, each pleaded guilty to federal charges - one count each of conspiracy to conduct racketeering activities. Two of the men also pleaded guilty to individual carjacking and attempted murder charges.

Law enforcement agents alleged all four men performed various illegal and violent duties as members of a gang operating out of the Northview Heights and Fineview neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Authorities say the Crips became active on the Northside in 2002 and later combined with a second Crips gang to strengthen their influence and drug business territory.

Three of the co-conspirators admitted to committing robberies at gunpoint as well as cocaine and heroin dealing and distribution. A fourth man confessed to engaging in violent acts as an accused Crips enforcer including several retaliatory shootings of members of other gangs.

A combination of local, county and federal law enforcement agencies, called the Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force, spent five years investigating alleged Crips gang activities on Pittsburgh's Northside before making the arrests. The four suspects and 22 others were taken into custody in the winter of 2010.

Authorities say more than half of the over two dozen suspects arrested and formally charged with racketeering conspiracy, all suspected members of the Crips street gang, have now pleaded guilty. The four who recently pleaded guilty in federal court will be sentenced this coming August.

The defendants face maximum penalties of 20 years to life in prison with fines from $250,000 to $1 million.

Source: Justice.gov, "Four Pittsburgh Crips Gang Members Plead Guilty to Racketeering Charges," 4/28/2011

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