11 alleged members of Top 6 gang arrested in Fla.

Cash, counterfeit money, drugs seized, agencies say

By Jerome Burdi
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE — A two-year investigation has resulted in the arrests of 11 alleged members of the Top 6 gang that is tied to 14 homicides and more than 150 shootings in Palm Beach County, local, state and federal agencies said Friday.

Operation Deep 6 culminated Thursday night when officers swept in. They reported seizing drugs, $5,000, counterfeit money and gang paraphernalia. Included in the items they confiscated was a T-shirt printing machine the gang used to glorify henchmen killed in street retaliation wars over drugs, money and turf, investigators said.

"They have been a scourge on our community," Palm Beach County Sheriff's Col. Michael Gauger said Friday. "These are guys who ruin families' lives."

A statewide grand jury issued 12 racketeering indictments earlier this month. Nine of the men were arrested Thursday night and Friday, two were already in jail on other charges and the 12th is still being sought.

This is the second batch of gang indictments issued since the grand jury, based in West Palm Beach, was formed last year.

In December, authorities announced the indictments of 10 members of SUR-13, a Southern California gang that answers to the Mexican Mafia. They were from the Westgate neighborhood west of West Palm Beach.

Authorities are using state racketeering laws to stunt gang activities, filing charges historically associated with Mafia cases.

The alleged leader of Top 6, Futo Charles, 27, of Lake Worth, was held on $1.5 million bail because of a prior drug trafficking charge. Charles also has been charged with attempted murder for attacking a lifelong acquaintance over turf, investigators said.

"With so many of the shootings the task force worked, Futo Charles was always around," said county Violent Crimes Task Force Lt. Michael Wallace.

The rest of the alleged Top 6 members are being detained on $1 million bail each on racketeering and other counts, mainly drug and weapons charges.

None of the arrested men was charged with any of the homicides that investigators attribute to the gangs.

In addition to Charles, authorities arrested Carlington Gordon, 23, Thomy Thomas, 26, Daniello Olius, 29, Jessee Thomas, 22, all of Lantana, and Ernst Exavier, 24, Smith Dort, 21, John Jerome, 24, Wilson Gilles, 20, Danel Jerome, 21, and Wilbertson Noelzinord, 22, all of Lake Worth.

Several other arrests were made during the two-year investigation, which also resulted in 11 deportations, officials said.

Top 6 is responsible for several high-profile cases, including a triple homicide last year in Lake Worth and the Christmas Eve 2006 shooting death of a reputed gang member at the Boynton Beach Mall, authorities said.

Most gang members don't know what racketeering charges are, said Mike Driscoll, resident agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Palm Beach County field office.

"But they're finding out very quickly. What it means is more jail time," he said.

Lake Worth police investigator Brian Hermanson said he watched the gang, which claimed to be a rap group, grow from six members in 2000 to more than 300 today. He said he hopes the news that Charles and the other gang members are behind bars will make homicide witnesses less fearful about stepping forward to testify. "This is not the end of the case," he said. "This is the beginning."

Copyright 2008 The South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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