K&A Gang

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The K&A Gang
Founding location Kensington, Philadelphia
Years active 1950s - present
Territory Various neighborhoods in Northeast Philadelphia
Kensington
Fishtown
Port Richmond
Philadelphia Badlands
Ethnicity Predominantly Irish American,
Membership (est.) around 50-60 members
Criminal activities Burglary, loan sharking, gambling, drug trafficking, racketeering, extortion, murder
Allies Scarfo crime family
Philadelphia Greek Mob
Genovese crime family
Rivals Various local street gangs, Kielbassa Posse,[1]
Russian organized crime

The K&A Gang (currently known as the Northeast Philly Irish Mob) is a predominantly Irish American criminal network based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The K&A Gang was started following World War II and controlled the city's Irish-American criminal underworld for much of the late 20th century. The group was mainly a burglary ring for much of its early history, but shifted into loansharking, gambling, and ultimately drug trafficking in its later existence. The name "K&A" is derived from Kensington and Allegheny, the road intersection where the gang originally formed.[2]

Domestically, the network is known to have ties to various criminal organizations in its surrounding area. They are known to have amicable ties to the La Cosa Nostra. Namely the Scarfo crime family, but also the South Jersey faction of the New York City-based Genovese crime family,[3] the local Greek mob, local Jewish-American criminals, and various independent drug and hijacking gangs of various European ethnicities in the Greater Philadelphia area. They are also said to have ties to the Irish Republican Army and the larger Irish republican movement.

History[edit]

Beginnings as a burglary ring[edit]

From the post-war 1950s to the 1970s, members of the network were tied to burglaries and theft operations all along the East Coast. While most of their work was around the Philadelphia area, they ventured out from their turf since the group's inception. A favored target was the wealthy residential Jewish suburbs, which would be the livelihood of the group for many years. The crew was adamant about not carrying weapons with them while they burglarized. This was largely due to the liability of increased jail time if caught with a firearm. They also traded the cliché burglary attire for professional suits, while on the job, in case they were stopped. In those days, there was no overarching structure within the gang. It was horizontal in nature, there being several prominent "crew chiefs" who held influence.[4]

Their reach even extended outside the boundaries of Philadelphia as they targeted other ventures. In North Carolina, several members were known as the "Hallmark Gang" and would collaborate with the Dixie Mafia. They are also allegedly responsible for the Pottsville Heist in 1959. George Holmes alleges that a showgirl named Lillian Reis gave the gang the tip they needed to pilfer $478,000 in cash and jewelry from the home of John B. Rich. Lillian "Tiger Lil" Reis was a well-known nightclub entrepreneur and former showgirl who had ties to the gangsters.[5]

Expansion into the methamphetamine trade[edit]

By the late 1970s, with the advent of modern home-security technologies, the burglary racket was no longer viable as a main source of income.[6] With the rise of the drug culture of the 1980s, the group began to focus less on their signature brand of thievery and more towards traditional criminal schemes and the booming methamphetamine trade. This was largely due to the immense profit that was available due to the high demand in the area.[7]

By the early 1980s, John Carlyle Berkery had close ties with Angelo Bruno and Raymond Martorano of the Philadelphia crime family, as well as John McCullough, union boss of the Roofers' Union, Local 30.[8] It was through these influential connections that the K&A Gang would expand into other rackets establishing its foothold in the Northeast.

In 1983, Philadelphia garnered a reputation as the "meth capital of the world", according to a statement published by the Associated Press, from a local police officer.[9] It is widely held that this was made possible due to the K&A Gang, and the Junior Black Mafia, among others.[10]

After being indicted for 14 counts of trafficking in methamphetamine and the chemical P2P in January 1982, Berkery fled to Ireland to avoid prosecution, where he supposedly had contacts in the Irish Republican Army.[11] In the fall of 1987, after spending five years on the run, he was captured in June 1987 and subsequently faced trial. Berkery admitted to engaging in a large scale meth deal with Chelsais Bouras, leader of the Philadelphia Greek Mob. Ronald Raiton, a notable criminal figure in the methamphetamine trade, testified that Berkery had bought 200 gallons of P2P from Raiton over the course of a year in 1980-1981.[12] Prosecutors stated that he and Raymond Martorano had planned to take over all meth trafficking in Philadelphia.

String of drug ring arrests[edit]

Carl "Better Days" Jackson assumed control of the group. Jackson went on to lead the group until his conviction in late 1987, just a week after his former boss faced trial and was also found guilty. Jackson was said to have gained around 4 million dollars in drug profits in the period between his takeover of the gang's meth endeavours and his eventual arrest. He received a lifetime sentence in accordance with the Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute, otherwise known as the "drug kingpin" law.[13]

Along with Carl Jackson, 22 affiliates of the K&A meth ring were indicted under federal drug manufacturing charges related to an operation that authorities believe produced roughly ten million dollars worth of speed in hidden labs in the across Pennsylvania area. They were said to have manufactured 100 pounds of methamphetamine at a time, which was then distributed by Jackson's subordinates. At the time US Attorney Edward Dennis claimed in a press release that the gang is "one of the largest methamphetamine organizations in the nation." Edward Loney was to have arranged the obtaining of 50 gallons of P2P, a precursor chemical, along with Waldemar "Walter" Roeder from Toronto, while Jackson sold mass quantities to contacts in New York.[14]

After the downfall of Carl Jackson, Roy Stocker became the dominant K&A member operating a methamphetamine manufacturing enterprise. In 1981, Stacker sought a partnership with Scarfo in an methamphetamine operation in Northeast Philadelphia, through Albert "Reds" Pontani. Between 1981 and 1986 he allegedly produced and distributed methamphetamine, commonly known as speed, and also allegedly took part in extortion, loan-sharking and burglary.[15] The meth rings were sanctioned by the Scarfo crime family, who received a cut of the profits. In February 1991, Roy Stocker and three others were found guilty of operating a ring that sold $52 million worth of methamphetamine between 1981 and 1987.[16]

Roofers' Union corruption[edit]

In the early 2000s, the Traitz brothers, who were connected to the K&A Gang through the Roofers' Union - Local 30 were indicted for the murder of Robert Hammond. He was allegedly assumed to be an informant on the meth operation that the Traitz brother ran in tandem with members of the K&A gang. David Criniti who was involved in the operation soon testified against the defendants, dealing a blow to the K&A Gang.[17]

Historical membership[edit]

Leaders[edit]

Burglary ring-era captains[edit]

The K&A burglary crew was a coalition of "crew chiefs" and the organization was a horizontal one in terms of structure.[4]

  • James "LaLa" McQuoid
  • Edward "Eddie" Burke Jr.- Influential K&A crew chief.[6]
  • William "Willie" Sears - K&A crew leader[4]
  • Louis "Junior" Kripplebauer - K&A crew leader[4]

Post '80s leaders[edit]

Around 1980, the groups switched to methamphetamine and with it came the need for a more hierarchical organization.

Members[edit]

  • Charles "Chick" Goodroe - Influential member in the K&A burglary ring.[4]
  • Francis James Brewer - Member of the K&A burglary ring.[6]
  • James "Jimmy" Dolan - Recruit of Eddie Burke and member of the K&A burglary ring.[4]
  • Hugh "Hughie" Breslin - Member of the burglary crew.[4]
  • James "Jimmy" Laverty - Member of the burglary ring[4]
  • William "Billy Blue" McClurg - Member of the burglary crew.[4]
  • John Gerard - Member of Carl Jackson's crew.[14]
  • Dean Heiser - Member of the burglary ring[4]
  • Henry Saby - Member of Carl Jackson's meth ring.[14]
  • Kenneth Miller - Cook for Carl Jackson's operation[14]
  • James McKenzie - Carl Jackson's key distributor.[14]
  • Edward Loney - Carl Jackson's P2P supplier.[14]
  • William "Chucky" McIlvain - Member of Carl Jackson's crew.[14]
  • Raymond Brown - Member of the Stocker drug ring[16]
  • James O'Malley - Member of the Stocker drug ring[16]
  • James "Lefty" Shannon - Member of the Stocker gang[16]
  • Terry Lees - Roy Stocker's methamphetamine cook.[15]
  • William Stearn - Former Roofers' Union Local 30 president & member of the Stocker meth ring.[16]
  • Robert "Irish Bobby" Kallaur - Former boxer and enforcer for Roy Stocker[15]
  • Michael Caputo - Member of the Stocker drug ring.[15]
  • Barry Saltzburg - Member of the Stocker organization.[15]
  • John Goodwin - Former K&A burglar & Roofers' Union member and member of the Traitz meth ring[17]
  • John Boggs

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brendan McGarvey (2002-12-18). "Pole-Vaulting - Another group of Eastern-European gunsels makes its mark". Philadelphia City Paper. Archived from the original on 2012-09-16. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  2. ^ Julia Cass (1987-08-15). "Leader Of 'Speed' Ring Is Convicted". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-07-28. 
  3. ^ Jeff Gammage (2006-03-07). "Tale of the notorious Phila. K&A burglars The gang looted homes of the rich. Writing the story had peril.". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-07-28. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Allen H. Hornblum (2005-05-26). "Road Companies, Brutes and Safecrackers". Philadelphia City Paper. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  5. ^ Jenna Portnoy (2006-08-23). "War of the Words - A legendary burglar sues to protect his good reputation". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  6. ^ a b c Jessica Lussenhop (2006-02-15). "Robbin' Hood - After months of legal wrangling, the story of Philly's K&A gang finally gets published.". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  7. ^ Jim Smith (1987-08-17). "Ex 'K&A' Gang Member Guilty Of Drug Charges". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  8. ^ a b Jim Smith (1990-02-16). "Drug Trafficker Pleads Guilty To '82 Charges". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  9. ^ Jack Shafer (2005-08-04). "The Meth Capital of the World - Where is it?". Slate Press. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  10. ^ Beth Boyle (2012-04-10). "Tonight in Frankford: Ask-a-Gangster". Philadelphia City Paper. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  11. ^ M. Novak (2002-01-24). "Long John Lead - Was Ray Martorano's shooting a message?". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  12. ^ Joseph Daugen (1987-07-31). "Berkery Admits One Drug Salee". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  13. ^ Tony Locy (1987-10-06). "Judge Gives Speed King A Life Term". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Mark McDonald (1987-04-29). "Feds Hit 'One Of The Largest' Meth Rings". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Charles Pukanecz (1990-07-02). "Drug Ring Had Scarfo Link, Leonetti Says". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f Joseph A. Slobodzian (1991-02-28). "Federal Jury Convicts 3 In Drug Ring". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-07-29. 
  17. ^ a b Kristen E. Holmes (2001-03-16). "Witness Says Joseph Traitz Implicated Himself A Brother Of A Codefendant In The Traitz Brothers' Drug And Murder Trial Testified As Part Of A Plea Agreement". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-07-29.