Boston police and U.S. Marshals nabbed a 22-year-old reputed gangster who was on the run from authorities in Georgia where most of his friends had already been arrested, accused of fueling a “reign of terror” that killed at least five people and injured many more.
Daniel Pena, who authorities said was known as “Island” to the Gangster Disciples near Atlanta and was wanted in connection with three murders, was arrested yesterday without putting up a fight near Boylston and Tremont streets.
It’s unclear why he chose to lay low in Boston, though Pena had ties to western Massachusetts, Deputy U.S. Marshal Neil Sullivan said.
Pena was the last loose end for investigators in DeKalb County, Georgia, responding to a months-long spree of violence prosecutors say was inspired by politics within the Gangster Disciples.
A grand jury last month named Pena and eight others, who prosecutors said were part of the gang’s enforcement arm known as the “Hate Committee,” in a 45-count indictment that included five murders, a slew of aggravated assaults and gang terrorism charges.
Dekalb County District Attorney Robert James told the Herald the Atlanta arm of the Chicago-based gang required its members to send money back to their Midwestern base to enrich its leaders.
“There was a group, in a certain area of town, they were not obeying the rules, not paying dues, not sending money back to Chicago,” James said. “They were ‘green-lighted,’ [meaning] it was OK to kill them — that is where the Hate Committee came in.
“What ensued was a reign of terror. Everywhere they went, it was open season. They went hunting,” he said.
The five people that the Hate Committee allegedly killed were gang members, James said, but many civilians were caught in the crossfire.
Eight of the nine Hate Committee members were quickly arrested by DeKalb County sheriffs. Pena got away.
Authorities in Boston learned that Pena was nearby, and yesterday morning a dozen officers and deputy marshals started looking.
Two hours later, a Boston police officer spotted him, Sullivan said.
“He went without incident,” he said. “It appeared that he was homeless. He seemed not to be living the high life.”
Pena was charged yesterday in Boston Municipal Court as a fugitive from justice. He is expected to be returned to DeKalb County Jail, Boston police said.
DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey L. Mann called the arrest a “milestone.”
“We have been relentless in our effort to close the page in this chapter on gang violence,” Mann said. But James warned the arrests are not the story’s end.
“We have a blossoming gang problem,” he said. “They are not a bunch of local guys. We have people from the outside … It’s grown-up gang activity — people are being murdered and there’s organized crime. It’s unfortunate that it’s a sign of the times.”