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N.H.’s Brotherhood of White Warriors Part 3: In the streets

Two years ago, in an inmate’s cell, Merrimack County jail authorities found recruiting documents for New Hampshire’s only homegrown prison gang, the Brotherhood of White Warriors. Aside from an obligation to secure the future for “white children” the expectations were hardly objectionable.

No intravenous drug use. Maintain physical fitness. Assist other members in “all righteous” movements.

The problem, authorities say, is those rules belie BOWW’s real mission.

Prison and jail officials said local law enforcement ought to be concerned that a group started in 2005 primarily as a defense against a Hispanic gang is being commandeered by younger and newer BOWW members with an appetite for drug profits, violence and power outside the walls.

“BOWW has split into two groups, the originals or ‘Bounty’ and . . . the new group, ‘Motley,’ ” Lt. Lenny O’Keefe of the Merrimack County jail wrote in an email. “The new organization (says it) will always show great respect and honor to the ‘Founding Fathers of BOWW.’ However, they have set up a new structure and a new set of guidelines, and, according to them, a new way of life.”

That new way of life has played out in the streets of Concord during the past year, largely because two of the group’s leaders lived in the city until their recent arrests, said Lt. Tim O’Malley, a spokesman for the Concord Police Department. The police have identified those leaders as Daniel “Boots” Boothby, 26, and Matthew Peters, 22. They joined BOWW inside prison and came out as high-ranking BOWW officials, according to the police: Boothby was a BOWW “lord” and Peters was his subordinate, a “street captain,” according to the police.

“Since mid-October 2012, both Peters and Boothby were believed to be coordinating all BOWW operations outside the prison walls, to include actively recruiting new members into the gang as well as committing numerous assaults and to smuggle controlled drugs inside the prison,” Detective Wade Brown wrote in Peters’s arrest affidavit. “Reliable intelligence indicated that their efforts were part of a larger long-term plan to build a profitable criminal enterprise outside of the prison walls.”

O’Malley said there have been a half-dozen assaults, some of which are unsolved because the victims would not cooperate with the authorities, that the police now suspect were committed by BOWW leaders or members.

In addition, 50-year-old Peggy Sinclair, a longtime Broken Ground Elementary School teacher, was charged in August with trying to smuggle drugs into the prison, to Peters, whom she’d been dating, and another BOWW member. Sinclair packaged the drugs inside her Downing Street apartment, according to the police.

And the police say Peters and Boothby were behind February’s violent armed robbery, assault and kidnapping of a man as he transported $5,000 to $10,000 of heroin to the city. (The man was charged with drug possession after the attack, but a Merrimack County grand jury didn’t find evidence to indict him.)

In the Claremont area, home to several imprisoned BOWW members, Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway has seen similar signs of BOWW’s spread to the streets. Hathaway pointed to a January stabbing outside of a Claremont Walmart and a March armed robbery of an 84-year-old man in Claremont.

One of BOWW’s four founders, Jesse Jarvis, 32, plans to return home to Claremont in the next few months if he’s granted parole. Prison and jail officials noted that most inmates – about 96 percent – are eventually released and return often to their own communities.

“Obviously based on the history of the individuals in BOWW and the organizational history, we have concerns for public safety,” Hathaway said. “We also believe that BOWW is trying to transition itself from a primarily prison gang into a more formidable entity on the street outside the walls.”

Recruiting documents

The authorities’ concerns are informed, in part, by internal BOWW documents confiscated in prison and jail cells. According to one document, in addition to the traditional requirements that BOWW members stay physically fit (a minimum of four, one-hour workouts a week) and off intravenous drug use, members are forbidden from talking about drugs “unless it’s on the terms of business,” according to a copy shared with the Monitor.

The document also says:

∎ Members must maintain “a hustle,” referring to the prison economy, in which inmates obtain and sell hard-to-get or illegal items for profit.

∎ Homosexuality and debts are not tolerated.

∎ BOWW must come above all else.

∎ Members must maintain a code of silence and refrain from doing business with other groups unless the partnership is “sanctioned” by leadership.

Also found in the prison, according to O’Keefe, are documents that say BOWW’s new leadership intends “to spread throughout America, gain allegiances with other elite organizations, gain strongholds on the drug trade in and out of prison and, most importantly, preserve and protect our people (and) business and anarchy,” O’Keefe wrote.

O’Keefe knows people outside law enforcement dismiss the idea of a dangerous gang operating in New Hampshire, but he stresses – in training sessions with school officials, Rotary chapters and local police – that the threat of gangs is real.

“If you say the Bloods, people say, ‘This isn’t New York City,’ ” O’Keefe said, referring to the primarily African-American street gang founded in Los Angeles. “We have Bloods in New Hampshire.”

Redington Road assault

When the Concord police responded to the February armed robbery and kidnapping, they had heard of BOWW but knew it only as a prison group. While investigating that case, detectives learned that Peters and Boothby had been at work in the city for at least five months, O’Malley said.

“There wasn’t any arrest (before that) that would have jumped out at us,” O’Malley said. “But maybe there were signs, in hindsight.”

Those signs, O’Malley said, included assaults where the victims would not cooperate. “There were two incidents that happened before the February incident that we later learned had been done by BOWW members,” he said.

And while BOWW didn’t seem to be targeting random individuals, the February armed robbery happened on Redington Road, a quiet residential neighborhood. Peters and Boothby waited for the van to reach a quiet intersection of four homes, then rushed it, armed with handguns, according to a police affidavit.

What the passenger didn’t know was that the woman driving the van, Margo McNair, 37, of Concord was working with Peters and Boothby, texting them the vehicle’s location and helping set up the ambush, the police said. McNair, a mother of three, had a relationship with Peters and also with Boothby – at Peters’s request – according to a police affidavit.

While Peters held a gun on McNair for show, Boothby beat the passenger with his gun, knocking out four of his teeth, according to the affidavit.

Boothby threatened to shoot the passenger in the face and forced him into the back of the van, the document said. When the passenger had the chance, he heaved the van’s side door open and ran for a nearby house. He told the police he heard what sounded like a gunshot as he ran.

Later, the passenger described Boothby’s demeanor to the police.

“It seemed that (Boothby) had done this sort of thing before as he was confident, commanding and brutal,” the police wrote in an affidavit.

O’Malley said the arrest of Boothby and Peters, and their return to prison, “effectively shut down (BOWW’s) street operations in the city.” There are still about a dozen BOWW members living in Concord, the police said, but they’re less of a threat without Peters and Boothby leading them.

The arrest of Peggy Sinclair, the teacher, also took another BOWW resource off the street, the police said. Authorities have charged her with smuggling drugs to Peters in prison at his direction, by hiding them in envelopes addressed to him. The envelopes were intercepted by the prison mail room, according to a police affidavit.
Peters, Boothby, Sinclair and McNair did not respond to requests for comment.

The Concord police are continuing their investigation into BOWW and have established closer communications with the prison about the activities and pending release of BOWW members, O’Malley said. For now, the police feel they are ahead of the group. But they’ve felt that before.

In 2009, the Concord police fielded several complaints, some quite serious, about a group of teenagers who were calling themselves Red Villain Gangsters. They emulated several gang behaviors: They adopted rules, threatened assault of any member who tried to leave and required that every member pay the group 10 percent of their weekly “hustle” money, according to a copy of the rules shared with the Monitor. That money was to be used to cover members’ bail and host RVG parties.

The group was suspected of vandalizing property with spray paint but also of violence. Members assaulted a teenager who unwittingly insulted the group by wearing a certain color bandanna, the police said. In 2009, suspected RVG members approached a woman in the Walmart parking lot and one pulled a loaded handgun from his waistband, pointing it at the woman’s face, according to a police affidavit.

At the time, city prosecutor Tracy Connolly told the judge that the police believed the three teenagers charged were also responsible for a string of robberies and assaults in the Concord area. Some RVG members, including Peters, are now with BOWW, the authorities said.

At the time, O’Keefe did a gang awareness training for the Concord police. The department took the gang activity seriously, keeping tabs on the members and arresting those who committed crimes, O’Keefe said. That response shut RVG down, he said.

“They did an incredible job dealing with those RVG kids,” O’Keefe said. “Every time there was an RVG party, a Concord police officer was there. If there was a (RVG) meeting at a house, the police would be outside the house. The police made their presence known and RVG went away.”

O’Malley and his detectives are taking the same approach with BOWW. They believe they’ve stopped street operations now – but suspect this won’t be their last go-around with gang activity.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM. Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323 or atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)