A Howard County man who belonged to the notorious Crips gang was sentenced this week to 40 years in federal prison for his role in a murder-for-hire conspiracy that resulted in the death of 23-year-old Juan Ross, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jourdain Larose, 28, whose nickname is “JBlacc,” requested and got the help of two people to kill Ross, of Columbia, in exchange for money in October 2020 because Larose thought the victim was cooperating with law enforcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland said in a news release.

Larose, of Ellicott City, was also convicted of using and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence as he aided and abetted his two co-conspirators, the news release stated. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Julie R. Rubin.

The co-conspirators — Tyrik Braxton, 27, whose nickname is “Son-Son,” and Daquante Thomas, 21, whose nickname is “Glock,” — have both pleaded guilty in the case, authorities said. Both men are from Baltimore.

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Braxton pleaded guilty to the use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death. No sentencing date has been set, but he faces 20 to 25 years in federal prison.

Thomas admitted that he was one of the shooters more than a year ago; he pleaded guilty to the same charges as Braxton.

“You decided to pull the trigger to murder my son,” Sherice Taylor, Ross’ mother, said at Thomas’ Jan. 11, 2023, sentencing. “My life is changed and the possibilities that we will never experience, the sadness in our hearts. You’ve taken away the responsibilities and possibilities of what he intended to be. He intended to be an uncle, he intended to be a father, he intended to be a husband, and all that is wiped away.”

Thomas was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison.

Kim Hagan, an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, could not comment because the case is ongoing, the office said. Larose’s attorney was not available for comment.

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This week’s sentencing came two weeks after Howard County State’s Attorney Rich Gibson announced that a local leader of another California-based gang, 59 Hoover, had been convicted of murder. Prosecutors said the gang was seeking to control Columbia.

At the Feb. 13 press conference, Gibson said the absence of many gangs in Howard County made it safe for 59 Hoover to operate under the radar for a while.

“If you look at gangs, the pressure point for gangs is other gangs, law enforcement and the community,” Gibson said at the time. “If you operate in a clandestine way, if you don’t know what to look for, then you can operate with a degree of impunity.”

The Crips street gang formed in the late 1960s, according to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center. The gang is mostly known for its official blue color as well as its rivalry with the Bloods gang, also from Los Angeles.

“The rivalry between them lasted for decades,” according to MCAC. “It claims 15 lives a day across America. It’s like a backward game of red light, green light.”

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The Crips have been operating in Maryland since the 2000s, according to the DOJ. And in December 2022, the leader of the Baltimore branch of Eight Tray Gangster Crips, a violent subset of the Crips gang, was sentenced to 37 years in federal prison for three homicides, three nonfatal shootings and drug conspiracy, among other charges.

One month before Ross was murdered, he was arrested on drug and weapons charges, but was released on bail after police interviewed him, according to the 2021 indictment documents.

Court documents provide the following account:

Four days later, on Sept. 9, 2020, Ross streamed on Instagram Live to his followers while he sat in a parked car outside an attorney’s office in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Larose then joined Ross’ Instagram Live conversation. On it, Larose commented “I heard u was talking crazy crazy I jus wanna hear it out yo mouth.”

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After the video stream ended, Larose texted Ross, accusing him of being an informant.

The next day, Larose provided a gun to one of his unnamed co-conspirators “for the purpose of killing Juan Ross,” according to court documents.

By Oct. 3, 2020, the unnamed conspirator had not yet murdered Ross, and that same day, Larose enlisted Braxton, Thomas and a different unnamed co-conspirator to kill Ross.

The next day, Ross was shot multiple times in the head in Columbia.

“After text messaging each other about the address where they could find the victim, Braxton, Thomas, and another co-conspirator drove to the area of Basket Ring Road in Columbia to locate Juan Ross, then drove to a drug store nearby, where Braxton got out of the car and left the area,” according to the press release. “A short time later, Thomas and the co-conspirator returned to Basket Ring Court, shot and killed Juan Ross and drove away together.”

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Larose and Braxton denied they knew each other in post-arrest statements, but investigators linked them through phone records and witness interviews, according to federal prosecutors.

After Ross was murdered, Braxton texted Larose that he needed to talk about something important, to which Larose told him to FaceTime him, according to the plea agreement, as detailed by the DOJ.

Three days after the murder of Ross, Braxton texted Larose: “It’s going to be hot as shit out here” to which Larose responded, “It already is bro.”

Abby Zimmardi is a reporter covering Howard County for The Baltimore Banner. Zimmardi earned her master’s degree from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism in December 2022.

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