Six members of violent New Haven street gang arrested for murder, other charges

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NEW HAVEN--On Thursday, U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly, ATF Special Agent in Charge Daniel Kumor and New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman announced the arrest of six individuals associated with a violent street gang.

Those arrested were charged federally with racketeering, murder, firearms possession, distributing narcotics and money laundering.

The suspects are allegedly part of the Red Side Guerilla Brims street gang, a sect of the Bloods that operates in New Haven.

“The Red Side Guerilla Brims were a plague on the streets of New Haven,” said U.S. Attorney Daly.

"Whether it was murder, assault or firearms trafficking, this gang was intent on terrorizing or eliminating  anyone who stood in their way," said Kumor.

Esserman echoed the significance of the investigation's results.

"There will be New haven families that will sleep tonight well for the first time with answers," he said. "I would rate this gang closed for business."

All of the murders and attempted murders occurred in 2011 and 2012, and the investigation into the gang, nicknamed Operation Red Side, began in January 2014. It was a team effort between ATF and the New Haven Police Department, and was done through controlled narcotics purchases and firearms seizures.

The suspects that were indicted on September 30 include:

  • Jeffrey Benton, 30, of New Haven. He's also known as "Tall Man" and "Fresh."
  • Keith Young, 25, of Hamden. He's also known as "Capo," "Bapo" and "Poncho."
  • Robert Short, 29, of New Haven. He's also known as "Santana."
  • Trevor Murphy, 27, of West Haven. He's also known as "Snookie."
  • Robert Harris, 19, of New Haven. He's also known as "Skully Mack."
  • Christopher Graham, 28 , of New Haven. He's also known as "Ugg."

Keith Young and Trevor Murphy were arrested on Wednesday after the indictment came down, and Robert Harris was taken into custody Thursday morning.

Jeffrey Benton has been in custody since May 17, 2012, and is currently serving 108-month sentence for trafficking narcotics. Robert Short is also in custody for a parole violation.

Christopher Graham has not yet been located by police.

Benton is said to be one of the leaders of the Red Side Guerilla Brims. Others from the gang have recently been charged, and more are expected to be charged soon.

In all, the six suspects were indicted on 34 counts. The racketeering charges include ones for murders, shootings, armed robberies and assaults, as well as firearms and narcotics offenses.

Besides the charges listed above, the group is also accused of bringing narcotics to Bangor, Maine, and selling them there, as well as trading the drugs for guns to bring back to New Haven and distribute to gang members.

Here is a list of the crimes associated with the indicted individuals. In parenthesis are the suspects associated with each incident:

  • On February 23, 2011, an individual was shot and wounded in New Haven. (Jeffrey Benton and Luis Padilla, who is charged separately.)
  • On March 18, 2011, Derrick Suggs was shot and killed in New Haven.
  • On March 29, 2011, and individual was shot and wounded in New Haven.
  • On April 20, 2011, Kevin Lee was shot and killed in New Haven when suspects tried to rob him of marijuana. (Jeffrey Benton, Luis Padilla and others including, Rodrigo Ramirez and Miles Price , who are charged separately.)
  • On June 24, 2011, Donnell Allick was shot and killed in New Haven. (Jeffrey Benton, Keith Young, Luis Padilla and Kavon Rogers, who is charged separately.)
  • On September 19, 2011, Darrick Cooper was shot and killed in Hamden. (Keith Young and Robert Short.)
  • On October 21, 2011, and individual was shot in the face in New Haven. (Jeffrey Benton and Harry Anderson, who is charged separately.)
  • On December 22, 2011, an individual was shot in the face in New Haven.
  • On December 23, 2011, Joseph Zargo was shot and killed in New Haven. (Trevor Murphy)
  • On March 20, 2012, Donald Bolden was shot and killed in New Haven. (Jeffrey Benton and another person, who has since been murdered.)
  • On December 23, 2014, an individual was assaulted with a firearm in New Haven. (Robert Harris and Christopher Graham.)

If convicted of committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, Benton, Young, Short and Murphy would each be sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment or death if the government seeks the death penalty in this case.

The most serious charge levied against Harris and Graham is brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence which carries a mandatory term of imprisonment of seven years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.