MIAMI (CBS4) – Hours before the sun rose, members of Miami Dade’s gang task force gathered in a parking lot near the county’s North Side station, plotting a raid they hoped would mark the end of a violent gang known as New Money Boys.
“Vest up, be safe, easy day,” the lead detective told the 50 cops going on the round up.
“Easy day,” several of them repeated. Those two words represented a prayer of sorts, a plea that no one gets hurt.
New Money gained prominence in 2008, when 16-year-old Jimmie Bowen, the gang’s enforcer, opened fire on a drug dealer who had dared deal on New Money’s turf. The dealer, Pierre Roche, was killed; shot multiple times in the back as he tried to run. Also caught in the fusillade was 10-month-old Derrick Days Jr. The infant was struck while cradled in his father’s arms.
“I don’t want my son to die in vain,” said Derrick’s mother. “I want something named after him. I want him to be the key to a change.”
The child may not have had anything named for him as his mother wanted, but the gang unit took her plea about change seriously. Since that fateful day they have worked to take the gang apart.
“We figure if we can get the narcotic sales off the block, off the street, it’ll make the projects a safer place,” said Officer Thomas Frazier, who has tracked the New Money gang for years. “Wherever there are narcotics, there are guns, there are robberies.”
The gang’s purported leaders – Keith and Kenneth Williams – twin brothers with a violent criminal history – were arrested on witness tampering and firearm charges last year. This morning’s raid was targeting the dealers.
Before dawn Miami Dade police, along with agents from the FBI and the DEA, rolled into the Annie Coleman Apartments. Locals call this section of the projects “The Rockies” and it covers two square blocks, from NW 58th Street on the north and NW 58th Street on the south, and 25th Avenue on the east, and 27th Avenue on the west.
According to police, the east side of the housing project is where marijuana is sold and on the west side focuses on crack cocaine.
Thursday morning, detectives had a stack of arrest warrants for drug-related charges, including trafficking within 1,000 feet of a school.
Within an hour five people were in custody.
Many of those arrested had family – including small children – living with them.
“Yeah, there is sort of a soft spot in my heart, but at the same time, while we are conducting these narcotic transactions and buys those kids are there,” Frazier said. “They are using the kids as look outs; they are using the kids as cover.”
And Frazier said the kids have little choice but to go along.
“This is the environment,” he said. “Either you join in or you have to defend yourself every day to try and make an honest living and an honest life. And that’s what we are here for – to protect the public, protect the kids and adults that want to live in peace.”
Frazier said there are plenty of good people living in the projects. He also admitted that while the New Money gang may have been stamped out, another group of drug dealers will likely move in.
“That’s a possibility, but that’s not something we can focus on,” he said. “We can only focus on the here and now. The New Money gang was a very violent gang, we’ve made a tremendous impact on that gang, but this investigation will still be ongoing. It just doesn’t stop today, it will be continuous.”