MANCHESTER — A jury found the leader of the Squad street gang guilty of more than 50 criminal charges on Monday, including leading a drug enterprise.
The verdict concluded a nearly month-long trial that focused on the efforts of Brandon Griffin, 33, and his Squad gang to control the drug trade in Manchester in 2015 and 2016.
Testimony included 11 instances of Squad members shooting up addresses in Manchester, most of them trap houses of rival drug dealers; the murder of a former Squad member; and how Griffin controlled gang members, including ordering enforcers to cut the face of women for not paying off their drug debts.
“We’re taking these things seriously,” said Nicole Schultz-Price, the first assistant Hillsborough County Attorney and the lead prosecutor in the case. “This drug issue has been coming up from Massachusetts into Manchester for far too long, and we’re holding these people accountable and they will be put away for the rest of their lives.”
Schultz-Price said Griffin moved large amounts of drugs, and during closing arguments she stressed that he was not addicted to drugs, while nearly all those around him were. Several times a week Griffin traveled to Massachusetts to pick up drug packages.
When police raided a Squad apartment in 2016, they found 111 grams of fentanyl and 100 grams of crack-cocaine in a safe.
The jury of six men and six women found Griffin guilty of 53 charges and cleared him of 19. The jury’s first few verdicts were innocent, but as soon as the forewoman said guilty, bailiffs approached Griffin and handcuffed him from behind.
Judge David Anderson scheduled a sentencing hearing for Aug. 5. If Anderson issues back-to-back sentences, Griffin would be sent to prison for a minimum of 334 years, prosecutors said. Schultz-Price said they will seek a minimum of more than 100 years.
The trial featured the testimony of four former Squad members. One, John Gebo, is spending 30 years in prison for the June 2016 shooting death of Hans Odige.
Gebo had testified that he shot Odige at the behest of Griffin, but only wanted to shoot him in the leg. Gebo also testified that Griffin had ordered him to kill a rival — Joshua “Six Mosely” Vasquez. But when Gebo didn’t go through with it, Griffin pistol-whipped him. The jury found Griffin innocent of murder solicitation and murder conspiracy charges in connection with the attempt on Vasquez.
"Griffin’s group, 'The Squad' was nothing more than a criminal enterprise involved in drug activity, extreme violence and in no way, shape or form productive members of our community," Manchester police Chief Carlo Capano said in a statement issued Tuesday. "The actions of this group did nothing but put our community at risk, and we can not and will not tolerate that type of behavior."
He credited his police department, prosecutors and the jury for the conviction.
Griffin faced six charges for each of the 11 shootings.
The jury found Griffin guilty of all six charges when it came to seven of the shootings. They found him guilty of only two charges in each of the remaining four incidents.
Most of the houses were drug houses of rivals. One was the apartment of a rival’s girlfriend and child. Another, 253 Spruce St., was the apartment of people who were working on a car in an alley and did not move when the Squad tried to drive down the alley.
Most known Squad members are now in prison; those who testified are expected to have reduced sentences.
Schultz-Price said the Squad had been a large network of individuals, and Griffin had significant ties in Massachusetts.
“There’s a good chance that some of the Squad still lives on,” she said.
County Attorney Michael Conlon praised Manchester police and his office for the work in getting the verdict.
“This case has had the attention of the County Attorney’s office for over a year before going to trial, and after a little over four weeks of trial, the team has done an outstanding job of making the best argument possible,” he said in a statement.