Crime Spree on the Reservation

Teen-gangster Crips on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community got high on crystal meth and cheap beer and terrorized the reservation with drive-by shootings, murder, beatings, fire-bombings and robberies for two years--until the feds busted them fo

* Nick Pablo: Also in jail. Implicated in the death of Johnny James and the Subway murder. Both cases are still under investigation.

* Gilland Fulwilder Jr.: High up in the gang hierarchy, he testified against the gang after being implicated in the James murder. Has not been charged with the James murder. Currently in federal witness-protection program.

* Norval Antone: In the federal witness-protection program. Has not been charged with any gang-related crime.

With the exception of John Webster, all gangsters denied committing any crimes.

Several gangsters refused a jailhouse interview with New Times. Others could not be interviewed because they are in undisclosed locations in witness-protection programs.

But public records--including police reports and trial testimony--and interviews with family members, reservation residents, police and attorneys tell the bloody story of the East Side Crips Rolling Thirties.

In 1993, the year before Pat Lindsay was murdered, this newspaper published an article ("Strong Medicine," June 23) about an alternative school on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Riley Briones Jr., then a 17-year-old student at the school, was interviewed for the story. He told of his initiation into an off-reservation Crip gang when he was 14. He seemed to be proud of the initiation, which entailed someone stuffing a 9mm pistol into his mouth--Riley Junior said he didn't know the gun was empty--and pulling the trigger. Next, Riley got "jumped in," or beaten silly, by other gang members. He had shown he had heart. He was presented with a blue bandanna. He was a Crip.

The year after he became a Crip, Riley Junior became a father. He vowed he would marry his girlfriend, Carmen Montiel, but he never did.

Riley Junior attended two high schools in Mesa before enrolling at the reservation alternative school. Riley Junior said his dad, Riley Briones Sr., pulled him out of one high school, fearing reprisals because Riley Junior fought with a skinhead who was a member of a rival gang. Next, Riley Junior was suspended from a different school for stabbing someone else in a gang fight.

When he attended the alternative school on the reservation, Riley Junior wore his Crip colors to class because he was proud of belonging to an organization he described in this way: "It's not a gang. . . . It's just protection. . . ."

Actually, in 1993, while Riley Junior attended the reservation alternative high school and drew pictures during class of sexy women holding guns, he spent his off-school hours with his gangster pals at the reservation home of his parents, Rosy and Riley Briones.

The new $80,000 HUD home was painted blue--the Crip color--inside and out. The curtains and the couch were blue.

Riley Senior, 37, a landscaper, is only 17 years older than his eldest son, Riley Junior. Of mixed Mexican and Indian heritage, he promoted what he called "unity" between Mexicans and Indians. Riley Senior's notion of unity was symbolized by "M" and "I" tattoos etched into the forearms--and, in one case, the face--of various East Side Crips Rolling Thirties members.

Riley Senior was the chief adviser and father figure to the gang. He encouraged another son, Ricardo, in his gang activities. Riley Senior allowed the gang to meet and strategize at his home on the reservation. Riley Senior monitored the tribal police with a scanner. And when police raided Riley Senior's house in 1996, they discovered photos of one of his younger sons, a preschooler, dressed in Crip attire. In the photo, the grinning toddler hugs an SKS fully automatic assault rifle.

Folks in the community say Rosy Briones, Riley Senior's wife, could not prevent the gang activity in her home because she herself was a victim of abuse. Others say Rosy herself is a gang groupie.

Rosy is a member of the San Carlos Apache tribe. A sad-eyed woman who seems to love her sons--the eldest is Riley Junior, followed by Ricardo, Rosario and Geronimo--Rosy works at a local sand-and-rock company. Reservation residents say she sometimes wore dark glasses to hide her black eyes. Riley Senior once was jailed for beating Rosy, and it wasn't the first time he'd attacked her.

Rosy Briones declined repeated requests for an interview.
"I'm laying low," she says.
Among those who frequented the blue Briones house and were recruited and "jumped in" to the gang in 1993 were a reservation drug dealer named Gilland Fulwilder Jr., a petty criminal named Philbert Antone and a party guy named Norval Antone (Philbert's cousin).

Fulwilder got a taste for drugs early in life, having, he explained in court, "smoked a little weed" when he was 6. He began selling marijuana he stole from people's backyards when he was 8. By the time he was 13, he had graduated to speed. And when he was 20, he was a full-time drug dealer, specializing in crystal methamphetamine--the favorite drug of some members of the East Side Crips Rolling Thirties.

Fulwilder also sold drugs to children.
The two Antones and Fulwilder became "OGs," or original gangsters, and belonged to the inner circle of the East Side Crips Rolling Thirties. They helped the Briones clan increase membership and plan initiations--like fire-bombings--for wanna-be teenage gangsters.

"We want to see if you are worthy," the OGs would tell the wanna-bes. And then they would beat them.

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