Five Members of Violent Chester Drug Gang Plead Guilty to Narcotics and Firearm Offenses

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Issac Barrett, 35; Kaleaf Gilbert, 30; Darnell Bell, 31; Terrance Womack, 35; and Jamar Bright, 33; all of Chester, PA, pleaded guilty this week before United States District Court Chief Judge Juan R. Sanchez to charges including conspiracy to distribute crack, cocaine and heroin, as well as related narcotics and gun offenses.

In October 2019, two dozen defendants were arrested pursuant to parallel Indictments of rival drug gangs that operated for years in and around the city of Chester, Delaware County: the “William Penn” drug trafficking group, which controlled the territory surrounding the Chester Housing Authority’s William Penn Homes, and their rivals the “3rd Bone” drug trafficking group, which held power in the area of 3rd and Lamokin Streets. This week, the remaining five William Penn defendants pleaded guilty, wrapping up the years-long investigation and prosecution, and ending this violent drug gang’s reign of terror in the greater Chester community. The defendants will be sentenced in August 2022, when defendants Barrett and Gilbert will face at least 15 years in prison due to the statutory mandatory minimum penalties on their drug and gun convictions.

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As established during their plea hearings, defendant Issac Barrett served as the group’s source of supply, ensuring that his co-conspirators had a constant stock of crack, heroin, and cocaine, which his co-conspirators would then sell to their customer base of drug addicts. Co-defendant Kaleaf Gilbert managed a shared “trap phone” or drug phone, which the group, including co-defendants Bell and Womack, used to provide their joint customer base with around-the-clock access to crack and other controlled substances.

Not only did the William Penn defendants poison the Chester community with dangerous narcotics, they also used violence and threats of violence in furtherance of their drug trafficking crimes, including against the rival 3rd Bone gang. In February 2019, a dispute between the two gangs came to a head in an exchange of gunfire between Barrett and Gilbert and three 3rd Bone members in the parking lot of a downtown Chester bar, which resulted in the shooting and hospitalization of one of the rival gang members. Subsequent wiretapped calls with  Gilbert’s phone revealed Gilbert attempting to get rid of the gun used in the shooting by throwing it on the roof of an adjacent building, trying to hide his bullet-ridden car, and cavalierly talking about the shooting and potential paralysis of the 3rd Bone member. Texts recovered from Barrett’s phone showed him placing a $15,000 bounty on a rival gang member whom he suspected was responsible for the shooting.

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“These defendants and their co-conspirators in the William Penn gang, together with the defendants in 3rd Bone, terrorized the Chester community for years with their drug dealing and associated violence,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Barrett sourced and supplied dangerous narcotics, and Gilbert managed the distribution ‘business’ through a cell phone, a business which eventually led to a violent shooting. Thanks to the efforts of investigators at the FBI and DEA, the 3rd Bone and William Penn drug operations have been permanently shut down, making the streets safer and improving the quality of life for the Chester community.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

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The case was investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration, working closely with the Chester City Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew T. Newcomer and Meaghan A. Flannery.

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