Leaders of Violent Drug Gang That Enlisted Afrika Owes Convicted
DOWNTOWN — The top five members of a violent Harlem street crew that terrorized West 137th Street — and enlisted prep school student Afrika Owes to help them run guns — were convicted on drug and weapons charges Thursday.
The members of the “2 Mafia Family” (2MF or 2DEEP) and “Goons on Deck” (G.O.D.) sold crack in Central Harlem from June 2008 through February 2011, prosecutors said. A total of 14 defendants have now been convicted on crack cocaine sales and weapons charges.
“This violent drug crew terrorized a neighborhood in Central Harlem,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. “The defendants recruited young people to join their criminal operation and even directed its activities from prison, where four of them were incarcerated for other crimes. Drug activity and gang violence destroy families, communities, and in the cases of young people, futures."
The gangs used shootings, beatings and robberies to protect their business prosecutors said the defendants had an arsenal of weapons when they were arrested, including 9-millimeter semiautomatic handguns, .380-caliber semiautomatic handguns, .25-caliber semiautomatic handguns, and .32- and .38-caliber revolvers.
The gang members were accused of using female friends to help carry and sell the firearms, including 17-year-old Afrika Owes, a former Deerfield Academy student, who was arrested for carrying guns for the gang. She was released from Rikers Island in September as part of a plea deal.
The group's ring leader, Jaquan Layne, 21, was already in jail for an unrelated robbery when the gang was dismantled. Prosecutors said that Layne, who was convicted of conspiracy, oversaw the sale of drugs from prison.
His brother Jahlyl Layne, 18, was also in prison for the same robbery and helped oversee the drug sales. He convicted of conspiracy in the second and fourth degree.
Jonathan Hernandez, 19, who was locked up for a July 2010 shooting and gun possession case, was convicted of attempted assault in the first degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and conspiracy in the third and fourth degrees.
Jeffrey Brown, 20, accused of selling drugs in the 137th Street area, was also found guilty of conspiracy charges.
And Habiyb Mohammed, 31, who packaged the drugs, was convicted of conspiracy in the first and second degree.
The gang members face maximum penalty of 25 years to life on the top charge of conspiracy.
The District Attorney's office said that it has been actively engaged with the community, providing opportunities such as internships, to help prevent the formation of a similar gang.
“In the case of the 137th Street Crew, we have remained engaged in the community," Vance said. "We took part in a clean-up and restoration effort, and made sure teens stayed on the right path this summer by establishing an internship program that exposed them to educational and cultural opportunities."
He also said that office was working on reducing youth truancy and taking part in a gun buyback program on Oct. 22.