A little-known, Asian-run gang in Northern Virginia flooded the Washington, D.C., suburbs with drugs and recruited teenagers to sell them to avoid detection, prosecutors say.
Nearly two dozen suspected members of the Reccless Tigers gang face federal charges of running an armed, large-scale drug operation, News4 is first to report.
Some members also are suspected of killing a man who testified against a member of the gang, sources tell News4.
Six suspected members of the gang appeared in federal court in Alexandria on Thursday after an investigation by Fairfax County police and the FBI. A total of 20 people face charges.
The Reccless Tigers are not well-known to the public in the D.C. area. But police are well aware of them. They say its leaders, of Asian descent, move large quantities of drugs from California to Northern Virginia. They are accused of selling cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, Ecstasy and more than 1,000 marijuana plants.
They recruit teens to sell the drugs. Members "intentionally employ, hire, use, persuade, induce and entice persons under 18 years of age to assist in avoiding detection," court documents say.
The gang is known for running a sophisticated operation, said Jay Lanham, head of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force.
"If you compare them to Latino gangs we deal with, such as MS-13, I would describe them as being more organized. They tend to go after those crimes where they can make a lot of money, like drug dealing and extortion," said Lanham, who did not work on the case.
Some members of the gang are suspected of killing a 21-year-old man. He was last seen on Jan. 31 at a convenience store in Fairfax County with two young men associated with the gang. According to a search warrant affidavit, the man was a witness to a robbery committed by a Reccless Tiger. The gang "attempted to buy his silence," the document says, but he went to court anyway and testified.
Police believe he is dead. His body has never been found.
Sources close to the case say they expect members of the gang will be charged soon in the man's murder.
The defendants are:
Dane Nicholas Hughes
Anthony Nguyen Thanh Le
Angel Hoang Le
Joseph Duk-Hyun Lamborn
Tasneef Ahmed Chowdhury
Joshua Andrew Miliaresis
Sang Thanh Huynh
David Thai Hoang Nguyen
Kyu Wa Hong
Sascha Amadeus Carlisle
Fahah Fakrudin Abdulkadir
The names of three additional defenants were redacted from court documents.
A trial for the drug and gun charges is expected to start in February.