Jul 6, 2023 - News

Inside the Kennedy Street Crew crackdown in Northwest D.C.

Two police officers are pictured riding on bicycles on the sidewalk by a corner store

Kennedy Street has had spasms of violence for years. Photo: Michael Robinson Chávez/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Kennedy Street Crew wreaked mayhem in Northwest D.C. through violence, open-air drug markets, and a sophisticated money-laundering scheme, according to federal authorities who last week arrested a dozen alleged members.

Why it matters: The crackdown comes after attempts to broker ceasefires in the neighborhood, as fentanyl drives overdose deaths and homicides citywide increase by double digits compared to last year.

The big picture: The allegations of open-air drug dealing and firearm stashes resemble when crack ravaged Washington in the 1980s and 1990s.

  • D.C. officials have previously said that random squabbles or small street crews drive most of the city's recent violence. Prosecutors are now going after big crews.
  • The Kennedy Street Crew indictment marks the fifth time the federal prosecutor in D.C. went after a large operation since a Violent Crime Impact Team was formed last year, the Washington Post reports.

Details: The 12 men arrested are accused of being part of a violent crew that trafficked and sold fentanyl, crack cocaine, and hundreds of pounds of marijuana, according to the indictment.

Allegations include:

  • Crew members flew to Southern California to smuggle back suitcases of marijuana.
  • Gunfire outside Jackson-Reed High School in Tenleytown in November was linked to a machine gun among the 42 firearms seized.
  • Social media posts boasted about conquests. One crew member issued threats in a rap song.

What they're saying: "Criminal organizations like this are a magnet for violence," said U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves in a statement. He added that authorities are "focused on identifying and rooting out these types of operations."

  • The IRS said it cracked a "complex financial trail." That included drug money that allegedly passed through casinos and a phony business called Heavy Baggz LLC.
  • Four alleged crew members who were charged are still at large, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Zoom in: Kennedy Street is home to a gentrifying commercial corridor with new shops and condos and blocks of rowhouses.

The other side: At least one of the men arrested is fighting to be released. His attorney, Robert Jenkins, said that the man was "roped into this prosecution principally due to his residence in the Kennedy Street neighborhood."

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