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The three-decade rise and possible fall of Boston's largest gang

Columbia Point Dawgs in a threatening YouTube video

Gang members used YouTube to send warnings to rival gangs - such as holding up court records with names of alleged snitches.

Around New Year's, FBI agents made some unusual phone calls: Warnings to members of a Dorchester gang to lay low because a leader of the rival Columbia Point Dawgs had been shot and was convinced they were behind it - and was vowing revenge.

Demetrius Williams had reason to suspect somebody in the Greenwood Street Posse had shot him as he sat in his Mercedes outside a 6 Metcalf Ct. drug "stash" house. His Columbia Point Dawgs and Greenwood Street had been engaged in an increasingly violent feud for several months - which included turning Edinboro Street in Chinatown into a free-fire zone that sent six people to the hospital with gunshot wounds early one August morning.

An affidavit by an FBI agent who spent two years with Boston and State Police in an investigation that culminated in indictments against 48 alleged Columbia Point Dawgs members this week, says the beef with Greenwood Street started as an accident: On June 24 of last year, a Dawgs member trying to put a hole in a Norfolk Street Bulls member in South Boston - in a dispute over the rap business - shot a Greenwood Street Posse member by mistake.

The affidavit, by agent Matthew Knight, describes a violent organized-crime family - actually, four closely aligned families - that metasized into a large syndicate after members were evicted from their original homes in the decaying Columbia Point housing project in the 1980s. No longer confined to a remote peninsula, the Columbia Point Dawgs moved into other gangs' turf across the city - in one case heralding their arrival with a YouTube rap video made on a rival gang's turf - and set up satellite operations from Maine to Georgia to support a lucrative drug trade that they expanded and protected with hits on other gangs.

Knight writes the gang started as a homegrown rebellion against a Detroit gang that moved into Columbia Point in the early 1980s. In 1988, the leader of that gang was stabbed to death, and local drug runners took over. When the BHA hired a private company to gut the project - which had become so violent firefighters refused to answer calls there without a police escort - and turn it into the mixed-income Harbor Point, Dawgs just moved elsewhere, in particular to the Lenox Street project in Roxbury and Morton Street and Clarkwood Street in Mattapan.

With a base on Lenox Street, Knight writes, the gang decided to set up a drug-sales base in nearby Ramsay Park. Only problem: Ramsay Park was the turf of the existing Lenox Street Gang. The answer: Shoot and kill the Lenox Street gang out of existence - a strategy that worked, although not without some CPD casualties. The gang repeated the pattern across the city - at one point starting a firefight on Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan that continued even after the police arrived.

As with Ramsay Park, the gang did suffer losses: In 1995, rival gang members opened fire on CPD member Steven Sealey, killing him as he sat in singer Bobby Brown's Bentley. In 2011, a rival gang kidnapped a gang leader and held him for ransom of $100,000 - he managed to escape the basement room in which he was held.

Still, the gang prospered, sometimes by teaming up with other gangs, to the point where it controlled opioid distribution in large swaths of the city as it coalesced under crews led by members of four families - Williams, Woods, Berry and Funches. At its peak, gang members were bringing in and selling "multi-kilogram quantities of heroin, cocaine and crack, as well as thousands of oxycodone pills," the affidavit says.

In addition to drugs, the gang earned money by sending out members on armed home invasions of non-affiliated drug dealers, extorting storeowners and even robbing high-school students after school. The gang set up new bases in Fall River, Brockton and southern New Hampshire and Maine and eventually Georgia. One of the alleged leaders, Tony Berry, made frequent trips to Atlanta to pick up loads of oxycodone pills - and, often, "high caliber weapons" - photos of which he then posted on Instagram.

By 2010, the CPD was known up and down the East Coast as a street gang that was here to stay.

The gang, Knight writes, kept its allegiance to Columbia Point. Members often wore Phillies or Pirates caps - because of the P, in reference to the Point.

And they produced rap videos under the names 8 Bus Records and Waterboyz Records - as in the MBTA bus route that goes down Mt. Vernon Street and the project's location on the water. Their videos, posted on YouTube, often contained messages to other gangs. Last year, one video showed court and Boston Police arrest records listing the names and addresses of members of the Orchard Park gang members, in an attempt to have other gangs target them as snitches in homicide cases, Knight writes.

CPD gang members were frequently seen in the city driving expensive luxury cars, such as Maseratis and Lamborghinis. For example, during the investigation, Tony Berry, Yancey Williams, David Coke and Arthur Williams were all seen driving different Maseratis, as well as wearing expensive jewelry and designer clothing, and spending freely in the clubs. Other CPD memberws were observed operating Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti and Audi motor vehicles.

Knight described some of the locations in Boston used by the gang. Berry and brother Willie used the family home at 76 Radcliffe St. as their Boston distribution hub - as well as setting it up as the home of 8 Bus Records. Willie, the affidavit says, used the third floor of the house to "package, store and distribute heroin, oxycodone and crack.

The Williams brothers' crew, meanwhile, used 6 Metcalf Ct., 26C Saint Alphonsus St. and 4 Wakullah St. as "traps" in which to stash drugs for round-the-clock sales, the affidavit says. 4 Beale St. and 153 Norwell St. in Dorchester also served as gang "traps."

The gang also used the Finest Cuts barbershop at 405 Blue Hill Ave. and Bailey's Laundromat, 1135 Harrison Ave., to sell cocaine and crack to street customers. Gang member Anthony Coplin, meanwhile, used his Atlantic Fashion and Communications, 541 Dudley St., to "distribute kilogram quantities of cocaine," according to the affidavit.

In the months leading up to Williams' shooting - and continuing after it - the Columbia Point Dawgs and Greenwood Street battled repeatedly across the city.

On July 31, three CPD members were shot in Gleason Street in Dorchester. On Oct. 22, members of the two gangs limited their battling to fists inside the Saks Fifth Avenue at the Pru.

The Edinboro gunfight included not only the two gangs, but also members of the Norfolk Street Bulls and the Franklin Hills Giants, Knight writes. In addition to two guns seized on the scene, police also found CPD leader Yancey Williams's wallet in a car parked nearby

On the afternoon of March 27 of this year, a Greenwood Street gang member was shot while driving near Roxbury Crossing in a driveby by a CPD member. Not long after, investigators listened in as CPD leader David Coke discussed the shooting with another member, who "joked about coaching gang members about how to shoot each other."

This week, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced the indictments, along with the seizure of numerous 31 guns, cars, drugs and $1.5 million in cash. That's in addition to the 15 guns authorities said they seized over the course of the investigation - often after hearing CPD members in wiretapped calls planning hits on members of rival gangs.

FBI affidavit in the case.

Innocent, etc.

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Comments

given the photo, I thought this was going to be a story about that Fenway gang called the Red Sox.

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Not even a little.

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Last year, more profitable.

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I actually thought it was too. I know nothing of baseball.

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What did these dude's expect to happen? All the songs they're making directly reference them selling drugs and shooting people in great detail... They're making these videos about other people being snitches but they're the one's snitching on themselves!! Can't say I'm surprised by this. My friend showed me one of their videos about a year ago before I realized how much actual influence these dudes have on crime in the city and I remember thinking to myself how they were basically indicting themselves via their lyrics. That's the problem with Hip-Hop these days... talking like this will only get you in trouble, not make you more credible in the streets. smh

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They call it "dry-snitching"

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That's the problem with Hip-Hop these days... talking like this will only get you in trouble, not make you more credible in the streets. smh

So the real problem with hip hop nowadays is that they're getting themselves into trouble by discussing their involvement with murders and selling drugs in their lyrics, and not the fact that they're actually commiting murder and selling drugs. Thanks for clearing that up, professor.

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Great overview of the whole case.

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Funny how it took three reporters each in the Globe and Herald to write less detail than Gaffin alone. Well done.

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Its a good read. Interesting history well laid out. Most Globe and certainly Herald readers won't have the patience to make it through to the end. Great job also Adam.

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Great reporting indeed, Adam.
I knew the gangsters in Boston were quite violent and criminal but I always saw them as a bunch of ham and eggers.
Very informative to see the extent of their enterprise.

Keep up the good work.

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oh, I wish that were on CCTV to view! Might be hard to tell if people were alarmed due to all the botoxed faces in there.

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n/t

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The end of the Columbia Point Bloods, which proceeds the rise of some other gang/mafia. So, whats the point of this? Let corrupt police milk the Dawg's pockets until its time to distract the public with a big bust? Then repeat the process with the Somewhere Street/Block Guyz? The show must go on....

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As a life-long city dweller and someone who spent the 60's growing up in Columbia Point, this story makes me finally want to move. Great reporting, Adam!

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Was at The Point while sitting in 5 grade history class in the early 90s. They chased a guy down into the schools parking lot.

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Videoing evidence of your own criminal behavior is always a good idea.

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Types and quantities of drugs, guns, ammunition, cell phones, make and model of cars, cash, houses, EBT cards, MassHealth cards, jewelry, stolen goods, designer clothing etc.. It will be some auction.

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Fascinating and complex story! Someone should write a book!

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Oh, he probably didn't drink at the same bars. Does a version of him exist in the alternate mob universe?

BTW, the dimension missing from the history is busing.

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The segregation of the housing projects that did not end until the late 1980s after multiple lawsuits.

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"a Detroit gang that moved into Columbia Point in the early 1980s."
"When the BHA hired a private company to gut the project...Dawgs just moved elsewhere, in particular to the Lenox Street project in Roxbury and Morton Street and Clarkwood Street in Mattapan."

I get that from a practical perspective, the Housing Authority can't screen everyone because they're in the business of providing housing for all, first and foremost, but how did a) a gang from halfway across the country manage to make inroads in a Boston housing project and b) did criminals from a known problem location end up rehomed elsewhere in the city? Were there any simple precautions in place to protect the people who live in these residences who just want to go about their lives peaceably without worrying that their children would end up in or harassed by one of these gangs?

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the technocrats and others who created our social welfare policies really don't sctually care about the people who must live in housing projects. They get to pad their resumes with various 'accomplishments', then move on.

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How did a gang from halfway across the country manage to make inroads in a Boston housing project?

The same way gangs from across the Atlantic made inroads in Boston: family connections.

How did criminals from a known problem location end up rehomed elsewhere in the city?

Family connections, along with the fact that many of the gang members probably weren't on the lease.

Were there any simple precautions in place to protect the people who live in these residences who just want to go about their lives peaceably without worrying that their children would end up in or harassed by one of these gangs?

Uh, obviously not. If only there were a government organization capable of doing something about this...

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