08/04/09 — Marijuana arrests yield ties to area gang activity

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Marijuana arrests yield ties to area gang activity

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on August 4, 2009 1:46 PM

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From left, Matt Miller, Mike Smiley and Jerry Maxwell of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department display evidence seized during recent drug raids. Officers say one set of suspects had gang ties.

In one of two seizures of small-scale marijuana growing operations last week, authorities got a reminder that gangs can play a role in drug distribution.

The Sheriff's Office and its Aggressive Criminal Enforcement team served two search warrants, and one turned up four members of the "Folk Nation" gang.

Authorities have no way of knowing how "connected" the four men are with the Chicago-based street gang.

However, when they conducted a raid "first thing in the morning," on Tuesday last week, the four men were found with gang paraphernalia at the ready, Detective Sgt. Matt Miller said.

When the search was conducted, the men were found with their "flags," or gang-affiliation bandannas, in their pockets, Miller said.

"It gives you an idea of how serious they took it," Miller said, qualifying his response by saying "I don't know if they're affiliated with any other Folk Nation (group)."

Under a bed in the home, the four men had books of "G-Code," or listing of gang rules. Such books can also go by the names "Lit," "Knowledge" or "Bible," for people involved with a street gangs, the detective said.

Gang rulebooks could be attainable on the Internet, but Miller said he has seen limited availability of the material online.

Miller has been tasked with having more interaction with gang members, as a member of the Safe Streets FBI Task Force.

The connection to federal investigators can make federal prosecutions in qualifying cases easier, Miller said.

"(Safe Streets) just kind of gives a bigger hammer of justice when you're dealing with the more violent -- at least the (defendants) that meet the criteria for federal prosecutors," Miller said.

That can lead to far longer sentences for qualifying offenders, Miller said.

In the case of the four "Folk Nation" members, about 16 marijuana plants were found on premises, according to Cpl. Jerry Maxwell and Deputy Mike Smiley, both members of the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement Team.

This was not the first brush with the law for the four men -- authorities seized about $1,600 of marijuana and some "ecstasy" pills from their 103 Tiffany Road Address.

The men were Antonio Braswell, 18, Rashaad Jaquan Burt, 19, Douglas Ray Boseman, 20, and Lamontae Torquez Morgan, 16.

Another raid, at 351 Ada Stroud Road, took place on Thursday. Authorities said they seized 19 plants there. Names of the arrestees had not officially been released by authorities.

Authorities said there were no suspected gang connections in that marijuana grow operation.