A Cherry Hill crack dealer admitted in federal court Wednesday to killing two rivals as part of a long-running feud between two neighborhood drug crews.
Davon Martin, 25, was a member of a group known as Little Spelman, which was locked in a bitter war between 2011 and 2012 with another group, called Up Da Hill. His guilty plea to racketeering conspiracy highlights the interwoven nature of violence in some city neighborhoods.
"Many of the shootings and murders in Baltimore City result from disputes between rival drug gangs," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "Thanks to a lengthy and intensive investigation, we will hold accountable the criminals who turned Cherry Hill into a war zone."
The cycle began in early in 2011 when Martin and another member of his crew were shot at. In response, Martin shot and killed Rhidell Price, a member of Up Da Hill, a few days later. Gunfire broke out after Price's funeral, wounding one person.
Soon after Price's death, an associate of Little Spelman named Harry Hicks was killed. In retaliation, Martin killed another Up Da Hill member, Dwight Taylor, at a downtown barbershop.
Ballistics tests showed the gun he used was the same one used to wound the mourner at Price's funeral, although authorities believe another man — since slain — was the assailant in the earlier attack.
In addition to the killings, Martin worked with members of the group to run a crack distribution operation from an apartment on Round Road. And on a number of occasions, Martin took part in robberies connected to his drug dealing.
Martin's attorney could not be reached for comment.
In all, federal authorities charged 26 people from three suspected Cherry Hill drug groups as part of the investigation. Martin is the only defendant to have pleaded guilty in the case.
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