PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Bryant Calloway a/k/a “Bigs,” 32, of Philadelphia, was convicted today by a jury of one count of murder. He was also convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base; one count of using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during a drug trafficking crime; one count of maintaining a house for drug distribution (and doing so within 1,000 feet of a playground); and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The defendant and his co-conspirators were part of a single drug-trafficking organization (DTO) that distributed crack cocaine in and around an area known colloquially as “the Pit” – a playground located near the area of 5101 Reno Street in the Mill Creek section of West Philadelphia. The DTO operated to distribute crack cocaine from at least as early as 2009 and continued through 2015. During its duration, the conspiracy used several different locations to distribute crack cocaine, as well as several locations to store, manufacture, and package crack cocaine for distribution. In order to further their drug distribution, the members of the DTO routinely possessed and used firearms.
Beginning in summer 2013, the defendant began making attempts to take control of a portion of the crack sales being conducted in “the Grounds,” a nearby playground basketball court which was controlled by a competing crack distribution group. The defendant and others felt that they were not selling enough crack near “the Pit” and sought to sell crack at night in “the Grounds,” which had a higher volume of crack customers and presented an opportunity to make more money. “The Grounds” organization resisted “the Pit’s” requests to sell crack in “the Grounds.” As a result of the dispute, on August 5, 2013, the defendant and another individual entered into “the Grounds” and shot and killed a man who was a crack distributor for “the Grounds” organization.
In retaliation for the murder, members of “the Grounds” organization conspired to shoot Calloway. As a result of those efforts, Calloway was shot and injured. Calloway survived his injuries, but told officers that he did not see who shot him. Within twenty-four hours of the shooting of Calloway, one of the members of “the Pit” traveled to an area controlled by the “Grounds” and fired multiple rounds down a residential street. An innocent bystander (not associated with “the Grounds” organization) was shot and injured.
“The defendant shot and murdered another individual in a drug turf dispute,” U.S. Attorney McSwain said. “Drug trafficking begets violence. Violence only begets more violence. As a result of the murder, more people – including the defendant himself and an innocent bystander – were also shot. My Office is committed to keeping the streets of our community safe from these kinds of horrific acts.”
“The ATF is committed to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to target violent drug trafficking organizations that are responsible for drug trafficking and related gun violence in our communities,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson. “This conviction is a perfect example of the collaborative effort between the ATF and the Philadelphia Police Department to target those violent offenders.”
“The investigation, arrest, and successful prosecution of Bryant Calloway serves as an example of the effectiveness of strong and consistent collaboration between law enforcement agencies, ” said Richard J. Ross Jr., Philadelphia Police Commissioner. “We anticipate that this conviction will further disrupt narcotics trafficking and attendant criminal activity in the Mill Creek section of our city, and have an appreciable impact on the quality of life of our residents get those violent offenders.”
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Philadelphia Police Department, and the case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Ortiz and Seth Schlessinger.
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