Original Gangsta Killas were charged Thursday with a vicious crime spree of drug dealing, robbery and gang violence
25 members and associates of the South End-based Original Gangsta Killas were charged Thursday with a vicious crime spree of drug dealing, robbery and gang violence dating back to 2000. Federal prosecutors in Albany say the gang -- known commonly as OGK -- not only protected its "downtown" turf from rivals with bullets, but brazenly posted not-so-subtle messages on the Internet through compact discs, videotapes and DVDs. Gang members even allegedly produced a rap video like their fierce "uptown" rivals, the Jungle Junkies street gang, whose leadership was toppled in a similar racketeering case in 2006. Having successfully prosecuted that case, federal authorities are hoping for similar success against OGK. They allege at least 14 shooting incidents, four robberies and a stabbing across Albany in a period spanning from May 2001 to March 2009. The alleged drug dealing, which included marijuana, crack cocaine and heroin, dated back a year earlier. "I think the citizens of Albany can rest a lot easier knowing that they're a lot safer in their neighborhoods," James Burns, the assistant special agent-in-charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency in Albany, told reporters inside the James T. Foley U.S. Courthouse. Fourteen defendants were rounded up starting at 6 a.m. in raids involving 10 law enforcement agencies. Another remained a fugitive, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Hartunian, chief of the office's Organized Crime Task Force. He said investigators recovered crack cocaine, .22 caliber ammunition and gang-related clothing, CDs and DVDs during the raids. The indictment said OGK, formerly known as the "Black Gangstas," has also called itself the "Orange Gambino Killas." The probe had dated back more than two years, authorities said. Authorities identified 23 of the defendants as OGK gang members. Most hailed from Albany, but 23-year-old Owen Furthman, also known as "Diz," was listed as living on quiet Barker Street in Colonie. Elijah "Sleezy" Cancer, 23, meanwhile, was listed as living in a dorm at the state University at Oneonta. Also on the list was one woman, Michele Knickerbocker, 43, of Albany. Many of the defendants have been shot over the years and have strong ties to Albany's turf war between "downtown" and the "uptown" gangs.
Two of the defendants, for instance, are Nahmel "Kidco" Stratton, 27, and Nakeem "Little Bay" Stratton, 24, both incarcerated. The latter has been identified as the older brother of the "uptown's" Nahjaliek McCall, who was convicted of murdering "downtown's" 15-year-old Shahied Oliver at an Arbor Hill birthday party in August 2007. Another defendant, Marcel "Juxx" Perry, 22, was previously shot in a case in which Oliver was accused of felony assault.