Bridgeport man pleads guilty to racketeering while part of ‘violent’ street gang


BRIDGEPORT — A townsman recently pleaded guilty “to a racketeering charge stemming from his involvement in a violent Bridgeport street gang,” the Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Jamar Traylor, 22, of Bridgeport, “was a member of the Original North End, a gang based in the Trumbull Gardens neighborhood of Bridgeport who committed acts of violence against a rival gang, including the East End gang, the East Side and the PT Barnum gang,” prosecutors said in a press release.

The group also “robbed drug dealers, sold narcotics, laundered narcotics proceeds, and stole cars inside and outside Connecticut and used the cars to commit crimes,” prosecutors said.

Traylor was arrested after stealing a Jeep Grand Cherokee in Newburgh, New York in August 2018, the statement said.

“In the following days, Traylor and others conspired to use the car to kill East End gang members and their allies who they learned through social media were at a deli from Stratford Avenue in Bridgeport. Although that plan failed, in the early morning hours of August 13, 2018, ONE members drove the stolen Jeep to Union Avenue in Bridgeport where they shot and killed 25-year-old Len Smith, whom they believed to be a member of rival band East End, and shot and seriously injured Smith’s girlfriend, who were both sitting in a parked car,” prosecutors said.

“After the shooting, members of ONE transported the Jeep to Indian Wells State Park in Shelton where they burned the vehicle in an effort to destroy evidence of the murder.”

At the time, Jimmie Straughter, Smith’s best friend, was mourning the loss of a “wonderful guy”.

Smith loved basketball, music and video games, Straughter said. When Smith wasn’t working in the produce department of a Fairfield Avenue supermarket in Bridgeport or at home, he was hanging out with his friends.

“As soon as I heard the news, I tried to call his phone,” Straughter said. “I was hysterical. Everyone thought it couldn’t be real.

Traylor then robbed a marijuana dealer in October 2018, officials said, and was found in possession of five handguns and Glock ammunition in June 2021, when he was on probation for a felony weapons conviction.

Traylor, detained since June 2021, pleaded guilty to one count of participating in a pattern of racketeering activity Thursday before U.S. District Judge Kari A. Dooley in Bridgeport, the statement said. The charge could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

The ongoing investigation is being led by the FBI’s Safe Streets and Violent Crime Task Forces, ATF, DEA, US Marshals Service, Bridgeport Police Department, Connecticut State Police and the Bridgeport State Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the US Postal Inspection Service, Connecticut. Forensic Science Laboratory and the Waterbury Police Department, officials said.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen L. Peck, Rahul Kale, Jocelyn C. Kaoutzanis and Tara E. Levens, officials said.

The charge is part of Justice Department programs, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), Project Longevity and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OECDTF), officials said.

Reporting by Tara O’Neill is included in this story


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