Cuyahoga County

Statement by First Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Duane Deskins on Law Enforcement’s Targeting of the BBE 900 Gang

10/29/2014 2:00:00 PM
Thank you for joining us this afternoon.

We are here today to announce the latest effort by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office to stop gang violence in Cuyahoga County and to tackle head-on a gang responsible for much of the wanton violence that plagues our communities.

With our law enforcement and community partners we wish to announce a series of arrests, indictments and juvenile complaints aimed at dismantling a very violent street gang known as BBE 900.
On Tuesday, our team of prosecutors from our Juvenile and Adult Criminal Units prepared and submitted for filing 299 charges, including juvenile complaints and a Grand Jury indictment against 38 members of the BBE/900 gang.

In total, we are charging 26 juveniles and 12 adults.

Over the past few months – the period covered by the charges we are here to announce -- this group of young people has engaged in a continuous torrent of aggressive, brazen and violent acts. They include:

Assaults.

Break-ins.

Robberies.

Burglaries.

Kidnappings.

Shootings.

And Murder.

They have committed many of the acts charged here in public places including city parks and RTA transit stations. They savagely beat one of their victims in the middle of a busy street. They have tagged public and private property with their graffiti.

In short, they have no regard for the law, no regard for public order, and no regard for human life.

In their violence and indifference, they resemble a plague of locusts, wreaking havoc on everything in their path, making it harder for communities to escape from blight and regain their social and economic footing. Our communities cannot thrive when good people are afraid to walk the streets. Here and around the nation, community investment withers in the face of fear.

One of the core goals of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office under Tim McGinty is to change that dynamic by making our communities safer.

These criminal acts took place at locations throughout the city and inner-ring suburbs, but they were concentrated on the West Side of Cleveland with an epicenter at West 98th Street and Madison Avenue.

The overarching motivation for BBE 900 was to intimidate both potential rivals and law-abiding citizens. The BBE 900 gang bragged that they owned the streets and demonstrated the ability to assault or steal from whomever they found.

Today, on behalf of the people of Cuyahoga County, the law enforcement community is sending the BBE 900 gang another message:

You do not own the streets.

You do not own the parks or the Rapid stations.

You cannot degrade the public spaces of our city.

You cannot beat, rob, terrorize, and murder people with impunity.

Your violent and criminal actions have consequences—and we guarantee you will not like it.

Those consequences began early this morning when officers from the Cleveland Police Department, the Parma Heights Police Department, the Pepper Pike Police Department, the East Cleveland Police Department the FBI Violent Crime Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service began executing warrants to arrest the 30 BBE 900 gang members who were not already behind bars.

I want to thank all of the brave officers who put themselves at risk to bring these lawless and violent gang members to justice.

We now have 34 of the 38 BBE 900 gang members in custody, and law enforcement continues to hunt for those still at large.

Let me describe the charges in the Complaint and the Indictment.

Every one of the BBE 900 gang members is being charged with Participating in a Criminal Gang, with Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity (commonly referred to as a RICO charge) and with two counts of Conspiracy, each with a Criminal Gang Activity Specification attached.

In total, we are filing 299 charges against the BBE gang, including 201 charges in the juvenile case. The BBE 900 juvenile gang members range in age from 13 to 17.

A total of 98 charges are included the Grand Jury’s indictment against the adult BBE gang members, who range in age from 18 to 34.

In their boasts on social media and in their brazen violence on our streets, the members of BBE 900 have acted as if they were above the law.

After today, they will know they were wrong about that too.

Let me describe the organization that law enforcement has targeted over the past several months.

Operationally, it does not appear that BBE 900 operates with a corporate hierarchy. But what unites and motivates the members of BBE 900 is a misguided and violent ideology.

Like terrorists, BBE 900 gang members channel some of the money they steal into rap recordings and videos that are spread using social media. The raps and the videos advertise their violent crimes, highlight their swagger and showcase their guns. That in turn builds the BBE 900 brand, recruits new members, and raises the intimidation factor – itself a valuable currency on the streets these young men mistakenly believed was theirs.

And BBE 900 clearly operates as a criminal enterprise.

They empower one another to engage in ruthless violence and act as a shield to protect one another from law enforcement, the community, and other rival gangs. Swarming in numbers, they believe they have the power to vandalize property, to attack people and to steal from whomever they please and whenever they please.

Simply stated, for the BBE 900 gang members, it is all about raw power and raw greed.

Together with our law enforcement allies, we have carefully built the criminal cases behind today’s indictment and complaints. Our prosecutors are eager to get on with the work of proving the charges we have brought and seeking appropriate punishment for these individuals.

By today’s actions and those to come, we seek not just to punish these individuals, but also to deter those might somehow see what BBE 900 did as glamorous, profitable, or otherwise worthy
of pursuit. Our community knows law enforcement alone cannot deliver that message effectively.

Today’s sweeping charges do not diminish our resolve to prevent more than we prosecute. We enthusiastically collaborate with partners, our schools, businesses, government, churches and other community institutions to give our young people a better and more consistent path toward a successful and law abiding future.

As we said just a few months ago, when a small and violent gang disrupts those efforts, it is our duty to bring the power of the law to stop the gang from shattering the hopes and dreams of young people, their families, and all of us who call Cuyahoga County home.

Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy. Phone: (216) 443-7488; or Cell: 216-640-6186. Email: jfrolik@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us

More information:
View the indictment [pdf]
View the presentation from the press conference [pptx]