SAN FRANCISCO—After a 14-week trial, five members of a San Francisco gang were convicted on charges including racketeering, murder, and murder conspiracy on Monday, March 5. The men belonged to a local gang known as Central Divisadero Playas, and all five were found guilty by U.S. District Judge William Orrick.

The Central Divisadero Playas, also known as Central Divis Playas and CDP, have been a part of the city’s social fabric since the 1990s. Only Charles Heard, 33, and Jaquian Young were convicted on murder charges that stemmed from multiple events dating back to 2008. Those two men will face mandatory life sentences.

Heard was charged for his involvement in the shooting deaths of Isaiah Turner, 34, and Andre Helton, 18. Both were found shot dead in a car that near the campus of the University of San Francisco. Jaquain Young was sentenced for his involvement in the death of Jelvon Helton, 22. Helton was fatally wounded in the Marina District of the city in November 2010.

Gordon, 29; Heard, 33; Ferdinand, 35; Young, 44; and Harding, 26, were the first five defendants to stand trial for crimes alleged in an eleven-defendant, 22-count second superseding indictment filed on August 14, 2014.  The indictment described CDP as a racketeering organization that worked collectively with other gangs in the Western Addition of San Francisco to preserve and protect power, territory, reputation, and profits of the enterprise through the use of intimidation, violence, assaults, and murder. The jury heard evidence that the five defendants, all from San Francisco, each played a role in the racketeering conspiracy whose crimes ranged from murder to pimping during the trial.

“This office is 100% committed to eradicating violent gang activity from our community, for the safety of all who live and visit the Bay Area,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tse.  “The evidence produced at the trial in this case makes crystal clear why we must not flinch from pursuing this goal with all necessary resources.  I want to express my sincere gratitude to the FBI, the police departments of San Francisco and San Pablo, and the San Francisco DA for their partnership, hard work, and commitment to bring these criminals to justice.  I also want to acknowledge the brave victims who came forward during trial despite threats against their safety, and the well-being of their loved ones.  Combatting gang violence is a dangerous endeavor, and as a community we must work together and stand tall to defeat the gangs.”

“Today marks a victory in our tireless and collective effort to rid our neighborhoods of violent gangs whose brazen activities pervade our community and threaten the safety of our citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge Bennett.  “These convictions send a clear message that we are committed to dismantling dangerous criminal enterprises and will hold their members accountable for their actions.”

The prosecution is the result of joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; San Francisco Police Department’s Gang Task Force, Homicide Detail, Robbery Detail, Special Victims Unit, and the Northern, Park, Southern, Central, Taraval, and Bayview Stations; San Francisco District Attorney’s Office; and the San Pablo Police Department.

Written By Seymone Khaleghi and Kelsey Thomas