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Indictments returned against members of local gang responsible for series of murders, assaults, robberies

Officials including U.S. Attorney Gregg Sofer announced the indictments and arrests Wednesday...
Officials including U.S. Attorney Gregg Sofer announced the indictments and arrests Wednesday in Temple.(Megan Vanselow)
Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 3:32 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2020 at 10:57 AM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Federal indictments unsealed Wednesday after a years-long investigation reveal “a reign of terror…resulting in death and suffering on a frightening scale,” U.S. Attorney Gregg Sofer said Wednesday during a news conference in Temple.

Thirteen members of the KWA or “Killas With Aggression” gang, which operated primarily on the east side of Temple, are named in the federal indictments stemming from a series of murders and robberies committed in an effort to control local narcotics distribution.

"These self-proclaimed ‘Killas With Aggression’ committed numerous violent acts to control the distribution of illegal drugs in East Temple through fear and intimidation, FBI San Antonio FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs said.

“Families and children deserve to live peacefully in their neighborhoods and not be poisoned and victimized by violent groups.”

The gang is linked to murders on Nov. 26, 2015 in Hearne; Sept. 30, 2017 in Belton; Dec. 10, 2017 in Temple; Jan. 16, 2018 in Temple and Jan. 31, 2018 in Temple.

The gang is also linked to a violent home-invasion robbery in July 2019 in Temple that left a resident seriously injured.

The house was targeted, authorities said, because it was a base for the sale of marijuana and firearms.

The indictments allege the suspects “committed multiple assaults resulting in serious bodily injury and armed robberies against various individuals for not using KWA and their source of supply for narcotics distribution.”

An indictment unsealed Wednesday that charges racketeering, Hobbs Act violations and federal drug trafficking names 10 of the 13 alleged gang members.

The Hobbs Act prohibits robbery or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce “in any way or degree.”

Six of the 10 were already in custody including Desmond Wilkerson, 27; Atorius Marquis Williams, 23; Demonta Daniels, 21, Trashawn Lamar Alexander, 26; James Roy Whitfield, Jr., 27, and Jyraciel Whitfield, 24.

Authorities arrested three others Wednesday without incident including Jason Mayse, 39, Christopher Meyers, 24, and Reginald Williams, 27.

Dominic Johnson, 25, remained at large Wednesday and is considered a fugitive, authorities said.

Wilkerson, Atorius Williams, Daniels, Whitfield and Meyers are also charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization or RICO Act.

The indictment alleges the five conspired with others to commit the five murders as well as “multiple violent assaults, extortion, drug trafficking and armed robberies,” authorities said in a press release.

The indictment also charges all of the defendants except for Mayse with conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act by committing or threatening to commit “acts of physical violence to steal controlled substances and proceeds from persons engaged in illegal drug distribution.”

Johnson, Wilkerson and Mayse are also charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

The indictments allege the three trafficked more than 220 pounds of marijuana throughout Central Texas since 2014.

Three other Temple residents were arrested on a related federal complaint unsealed Wednesday stemming from an early-morning home invasion on July 14, 2019 in Temple charging conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act including KWA affiliate Christopher Kelso, 25, KWA associate and Temple resident Emanuel Padilla, 21, and KWA Darius Hellums, 22, authorities said.

Temple officers who responded to the home invasion found a resident with gunshot wounds to the forearm and chest.

Officers obtained a search warrant for the home and found marijuana in a crawl space and an unopened bottle labeled Promethazine with Codeine, a prescription cough medicine.

“The City of Temple and Central Texas area is a safer place with these violent offenders off the streets. Organized crime and crime that victimizes the community should not be tolerated and it is my hope that this operation sends a message that this type of activity will not be tolerated in the City of Temple,” Temple police Chief Shawn Reynolds said.

The investigation that led to the indictments and arrests included not only the FBI, but also Temple, Belton, Cameron and Hearne police, Bell County deputies, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

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