Major investigation leads to 21 gang-related convictions in CT

The gang’s leader, Jeffrey Benton, was sentenced last week to 30 to 40 years in prison.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — At a press conference Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Deidre M. Daly announced the investigation known as Operation Red Side is officially closed.

“Earlier today the 21st defendant in the Red Guerilla case plead guilty,” said Daly.

Twenty-one arrests led to 21 convictions for members of the Red Side Guerilla Brims gang based in New Haven.

“Red Side is a brutal and cold blooded gang that created a climate of terror in the streets of New Haven in 2011 and 2012,” said Daly.

The Elm City had 34 homicides in 2011. Five of those victims were at the hands of Red Side members. That year the city ranked 4th per capita for homicides in the country, prompting officials to crack down on violent offenders and organized crime.

Operation Red Side launched in 2014. Authorities learned the gang was bringing drugs to Bangor, Maine and selling or trading them for guns that they would bring back to New Haven. Over the next two years police made 21 arrests related to the investigation.

The gang’s leader, Jeffrey Benton, was sentenced last week to 30 to 40 years in prison. Daly said 20 of the 21 people charged plead guilty. One man went to trial but was found guilty by a jury.

Tuesday, Daly praised the efforts of everyone involved.

“There’s a remarkably positive culture here in law enforcement in New Haven in which it is not based on holding back information. There is an open communication and sharing information,” said Daly.

New Haven has seen a drastic drop in violent crime figures in recent years. Last year there were just 13 homicides.

“It’s relatively safe. It’s a good place to live and I think generally the police do a good job,” said New Haven resident Edmundo Flores.

Officers say the lower crime stats and improved public opinion can be directly tracked to efforts like Operation Red Side. Acting Police Chief Anthony Campbell says this case should serve as a warning to would-be criminals.

“If you go down that path it’s a path that leads to destruction. You will be caught and you will serve time for doing the crime. Don’t even do it because we will get you. Period,” said Campbell.