Another ‘Blood’ sentenced

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another in a group of gang members arrested following an investigation by federal and local law enforcement officials received a long prison sentence on Tuesday after pleading guilty to federal charges.

Eric Drandell Ward, 28, of Portsmouth, was sentenced in Norfolk federal court to serve 29 years on racketeering charges and seven for possessing a firearm while committing a violent crime.

Ward had pleaded guilty in July to one RICO count and the firearm charge. The RICO count includes two racketeering acts he participated in as a member of the Bounty Hunter Bloods gang, which was operating in Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Suffolk.

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The racketeering acts included a home invasion robbery and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, according to U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride.

In the spring of 2007, during a walk-through of a home he had inquired about renting, Ward noticed a safe in the master bedroom. Several weeks later, in June, several members of the Bounty Hunter Bloods and Nine Tech Gangster gangs drove back to that home with a handgun with the intention of robbing the homeowner.

Gang members forced their way into the residence and demanded money from the victim. The victim began to scream and was hit in the head several times with the weapon, but her screams alerted neighbors, and the gang members fled the scene, dropping the gun in the front yard.

Ward’s second racketeering act, according to prosecutors, was his “daily activity as a gang member in selling illegal narcotics in the Huntersville and College Square neighborhoods of Suffolk.”

Ward was described as a mid-level leader of the combined gangs. The local Bloods founder, James Alexander Mack, was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison plus 10 years for his crimes.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Portsmouth and Suffolk police departments and the Virginia State Police.

A total of eight gang members, including two with Suffolk addresses, were arrested during the April sweep.

Danyell Jamar White, 21, and Cameron Mychal Evans, 21, both of Suffolk, were among eight suspects “charged with terrorizing neighborhoods in Portsmouth, Suffolk and Chesapeake,” U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride stated in an announcement of the indictments in April.

White pleaded guilty in May to racketeering and firearms charges and was sentenced in August to a total of 20 years in a federal prison. Evans pleaded guilty in May to one count of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of a racketeering activity and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.