As Montgomery County prosecutors continue to obtain convictions and lengthy prison terms against members of two rival, violent, drug-related gangs that plagued Pottstown between 2014 and 2015, it’s come to my attention the investigative effort has resulted in accolades for law enforcers and prosecutors.
The Citizens Crime Commission of the Delaware Valley recently recognized the Montgomery County Detective Bureau, Pottstown Police Department and the Montgomery County Correctional Facility with a “Multi-Agency Unit Citation” for the “Operation War Ready” investigation that dismantled the two gangs.
The recognition is well-deserved and county detectives with the district attorney’s Violent Crime Unit and Pottstown police can be proud of the work they did, coming to the aid of community members who were pleading for help during the height of the violence. Prosecutors also should be commended for putting together cases that resulted in getting the culprits off the streets and behind bars.
|Montco DA Kevin R. Steele/submitted photo|
Kudos to District Attorney Kevin R. Steele, his team of prosecutors, Chief County Detective Samuel J. Gallen, undercover members of the Violent Crime Unit and Pottstown Police Chief F. Richard Drumheller and his officers for their outstanding work.
A total of 47 people were arrested in May 2015 after the county’s Violent Crime Unit and Narcotics Enforcement Team and Pottstown police crushed the two rival gangs, “Brothas From Anotha and Straight Cash Money Gun Crew,” operating in the borough and neighboring Berks County. Authorities alleged the gangs were responsible for violent, drug-related incidents dating back to the summer of 2014. The two gangs were identified during an investigation dubbed “Operation War Ready.”
The conflict between the organizations “resulted in numerous shootings and gun battles” during a six-month period, detectives wrote in arrest documents. Authorities said the gangs were connected to illegal narcotics trafficking.
VIDEO: Operation War Ready News Conference
VIDEO: Operation War Ready News Conference
Prior to the collaborative investigation, a total of 17 shootings, a group beating and numerous illegal drug trafficking incidents linked to the gangs occurred in the region. On two occasions, there were multiple shootings transpiring on the same day and the shootings were retaliatory in nature.
|Gang member Devon Vogelsang/submitted photo|
Law enforcers with the help of county jail officials gathered intelligence on the suspected gang members and obtained court permission for wiretaps on the suspects’ cellphones.
At one point investigators learned that Straight Cash Money Gun Crew member Alexander “Dot” Scott, armed with a Tec-9 machine gun, was on his way to Pottstown to execute a member of the rival Brothas From Anotha gang. Detectives intervened by plucking the target off the streets on Feb. 28, 2015.
Former District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, now a county judge, previously credited detectives for preventing “the attempted cold, calculated execution of the rival gang member.” Ferman was DA when the operation was launched.
|Risa Vetri Ferman/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
In recent weeks, many of the violent gang members have been convicted of attempted murder, assault and weapons offenses and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from a decade to 57 years. There are still a few more offenders awaiting sentencing.
I think county First Assistant District Attorney Edward F. McCann Jr., who handled the cases with co-prosecutors Tonya Lupinacci and Heather Hines, said it best recently after a hefty sentence was handed to one gang member and he praised the joint investigative effort.
|Montco First Assistant DA Edward McCann Jr./Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
“I think the message it sends is that the Montgomery County DA’s office, the detective bureau, the Pottstown Police Department and Lower Pottsgrove Police Department, none of us are going to tolerate violence in any corner of Montgomery County and if it does occur, we’re all going to work together and ensure that anyone that engages in that kind of behavior is going to be held accountable,” said McCann. “The response is going to be swift. We’re going to do thorough investigations.”
So, congratulations to everyone involved for being recognized by The Citizens Crime Commission of the Delaware Valley. It is well earned.