By Jason Tomassini
BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Maryland authorities charged dozens of accused Bloods gang members on Thursday of running a crime ring that committed murder and robbery and trafficked drugs across the state.
Among the 35 who were indicted, several came from Frederick and from affluent Howard County, more suburban areas not often associated with violent gang crime, the U.S. State's Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland said.
"No community is immune from gangs," Col. Kim Dine, chief of the Frederick Police Department told a Baltimore news conference announcing the indictment.
The indictment charged 27 defendants with conspiracy and racketeering, while others were charged with selling illegal drugs including heroin, crack cocaine and prescription drugs.
Among those indicted was Andre Ricardo Roach, the reputed leader of Maryland's Bloods, known as the South Side Brims Bloods, who is already serving a 50-year prison sentence for second-degree murder.
The investigation began two years ago when Frederick police discovered a roster listing more than 100 gang members while responding to a stabbing in a motel parking lot.
Law enforcement authorities began monitoring communication among Bloods groups statewide and speaking with informants.
Not only did gang members communicate by telephone and e-mail but they could be seen on YouTube videos, MySpace and Facebook profiles flashing gang signs, throwing cash around and using their street names, according to court documents.
"It's a tremendous source of intelligence," said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein at the news conference in Baltimore. "But it makes the job harder because there's more work to do."
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Johnston)