6 Arrests Tied to E. African Gang

Hector Castro, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 14, 2006

The arrest of key members has dealt a blow to a gang of African immigrants who allegedly terrorized University of Washington students and others in the University District.

At a news conference Monday, officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Seattle police announced the arrests of six men with connections to the East African Posse.

“We think we’ve made a significant impact,” said Kelvin Crenshaw, special agent in charge of the ATF’s Seattle field division.

The gang has been active in the Seattle region for years, police said. Its members, they said, include naturalized citizens from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In recent months, gang members and their associates have been linked to drug dealing, shootings and other violent crimes in the neighborhoods around the UW.

The slaying of Demas Tesfay, 21, in the U District in May also is considered gang-related, police said. The fatal shooting remains unsolved.

The arrests announced Monday and earlier arrests were the result of work by a task force of the agencies announced in August. The state Department of Corrections and the King County Sheriff’s Office also are participating in the gang unit.

Authorities have said the types of crimes they are targeting include home-invasion robberies, carjackings, shootings and other violent crimes. By prosecuting these crimes in federal court, offenders can face longer sentences.

Those arrested most recently and charged Jan. 26 in federal court with violations of various drug charges are Tewoldeberhan Mekonnen, Daniel Mengisteab Yohannes, Robel Mekonen, Liban Farah Ali, Awad Yimer Aynisher and Merhawi Hagos Haile.

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