Federal fugitives arrested in Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Three Syracuse, N.Y., gang members wanted on federal racketeering charges in New York were arrested near downtown Suffolk Friday morning.

Federal marshals and Suffolk police arrested Ismail Pierce, 23, Skyler Willis, 20, and Dennis Jones, 31, at a house on St. James Avenue, said Marty Stidham, warrants supervisor in the U.S. Marshals Service’s Norfolk office.

The three had been on the lam since Aug. 2, when the U.S. District Attorney’s office in Syracuse unsealed indictments against 16 members of the Elk Block gang. According to the indictment, the gang has operated as a criminal organization in that city since 1995.

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Thirteen other gang members were arrested immediately after the indictment was issued.

According to the indictment, each gang member is charged with &uot;conspiring…to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity which includes multiple acts of drug trafficking, murder and witness tampering.&uot;

The indictment also alleges that the men act like a gang, sell crack cocaine and frequently use violence and weapons to maintain control over their &uot;territory&uot; in Syracuse.

The three fugitives, who are being held in Western Tidewater Regional Jail, will be extradited to New York to face charges, Stidham said.

If convicted, the gang members could be sentenced to life in prison and fines of $250,000, said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Katko in Syracuse.

The men were arrested with little incident around 10 a.m. Friday, Stidham said. After one of the suspects was arrested in the backyard, the other two came out of the house quietly.

&uot;We had been working the investigation with Syracuse for awhile,&uot; he said. &uot;We had received information that they had knew people in the area…had been back and forth several times.&uot;

Federal authorities were tipped off that at least one of the fugitives might be hiding out in Suffolk, Katko said.