Black Guerilla Family (BGF) leader Mark Bazemore, 31, has been sentenced to life in prison for racketeering and drug conspiracies related to his involvement in the gang.

U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar this week also sentenced other BGF members Michael Smith Jr., 30, of Baltimore, to 327 months in prison; and Timothy Hurtt, 45, of Baltimore County, to 210 months in prison, each followed by five years of supervised release. Irvin Vincent, age 28, of Hanover, Md., was sentenced to 18 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for racketeering and drug conspiracies, possession with intent to distribute heroin, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. 

All four men were among the 14 alleged gang members who were charged in a nine-count indictment returned on June 3, 2015, bringing the number of BGF members or associates indicted in federal court since April 2009 to 118.

A jury convicted the men on those charges on June 6. Bazemore and Hurtt were also convicted of conspiring to use and carry a firearm in drug-related and violent crimes. Bazemore was also convicted of conspiring to commit murder in aid of racketeering; and attempted murder in aid of racketeering.

“If we want to stop the killing in Baltimore, we need to remove the killers from Baltimore,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein on announcing the sentences.

Other members of the Black Guerilla Family have entered guilty pleas for their roles in the gang, including Timothy Michael Gray, 48, of Baltimore, and nine other co-defendants. They are awaiting sentencing.

According to authorities, BGF, also known as “Jamaa,” the Swahili word for family, is a nationwide gang operating in prisons and on the streets of cities throughout the United States.  Founded in California in the 1960s, BGF appeared in the Maryland correctional system in the 1990s. Its numerous criminal activities include murder, robbery, extortion, narcotics trafficking, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.

In 2013, the gang took center stage in a sex, drugs and corruption scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center, where BGF conducted an extensive illegal enterprise, including smuggling drugs, cell phones, tobacco and other contraband into the downtown jail and other facilities. The investigation swept up dozens of defendants, including the then BGF leader Tavon White and four correctional officers whom he impregnated.

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO