Cherry Hill 'Up Da Hill' gang member convicted in federal court Tuesday

A 25-year-old member of the Cherry Hill based gang “Up Da Hill” faces up to life in prison after he was found guilty of conspiracy involving three shootings and the killing of one rival gang member, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

After a week-long bench trial, U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III on Tuesday convicted Lamont Jones, also known as “Butt Juice,” of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise in connection with his gang activities as a member of the Up Da Hill and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics.

“We’re obviously disappointed,” Jones’ attorney Alfred Guillaume said Tuesday evening. “The number one thing in this case was the cooperating witnesses that came in. That was the crux of the government’s case.”

Guillaume said most of the witnesses called by the government were co-defendants who had either pleaded guilty or had been convicted, and who stand to receive a lighter sentence for their cooperation.

“It’s the standard practice in federal court, they’re looking for time off from their sentence,” he said. Other witnesses, he said, were identified by prosecutors as members of rival groups.

Guillaume said his client grew up in the area and that he knew the co-defendants. “His level of involvement we take issue with,” he said, adding that federal conspiracy laws require less evidence to convict.

He said the judge was fair, but he plans to appeal.

Prosecutors said Jones participated in multiple acts of violence as part of Up Da Hill, beginning with an assault and stabbing of a victim he referred to as a "snitch” in October 2006, the shooting of two gang rivals in November 2007, the murder of rival gang member Harry Hicks in January 2011 and the shooting of a narcotics-trafficking rival on March 25, 2012.

Jones had pleaded guilty to the 2012 shooting and was serving 10 years in prison.

Jones and other members also sold crack cocaine, heroin and other narcotics, prosecutors said. Jones knew the group was responsible for the distribution of at least one kilogram of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine, 280 grams of crack cocaine, and marijuana, the office said.

Jones was also aware that members and associates of the group committed home invasions and street and bank robberies to fund their drug activities, and would use violence to intimidate those who would interfere with the group’s activities, prosecutors said.

Jones was among eight defendants indicted by grand jurors in March 2015 for alleged crimes dating to 2000. Federal prosecutors have charged more than 30 defendants associated with Up Da Hill since 2013. The group, prosecutors said, operates out of the South Baltimore neighborhood, and feuded with rival Cherry Hill criminal gangs “Coppin Court,” “Little Spelman” and “Hillside.”

Jones’ sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 5.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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