Alleged 8th & Butler Kingpin Indicted

Posted: October 19, 1989

Jose "Tito" Rosa, accused yesterday of heading the multimillion-dollar ''Blue Tape" cocaine network in North Philadelphia, was the kind of boss who controlled his workers with gold instead of an iron fist, authorities say.

Rosa purchased expensive gold necklaces and charms monogrammed with the letters BTW, short for "Blue Tape Warriors," for his dealers. And he took about a dozen of best coke salesmen on at least one all-expense-paid trip to Puerto Rico, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Martir.

When workers shortchanged him for the cocaine he supplied, Rosa didn't follow tradition and order them beaten by his handpicked enforcer and co- defendant, Jose Anaya, a 300-pounder nicknamed "Idi Amin" because of his resemblance to the ruthless former Ugandan dictator.

Instead, Rosa had them "hit" in the pocketbook by taking them off the payroll for several days, severe punishment for someone who could earn several hundred dollars a day, the prosecutor said.

Rosa's greed-bred benevolence was rewarded yesterday in the form of an federal grand jury indictment that identifies him as the organizer of a massive cocaine ring that plagued the 8th and Butler streets strip between 1984 and September of 1986.

Rosa, 29, Anaya, 25, and 12 other alleged ring members were named as defendants in the case, the third to hit the Blue Tape gang since 1986, but the first to charge Rosa and Anaya.

The ring grossed between $12 million and $15 million a year from round-the- clock cocaine sales, according to Mary Vairo, a spokeswoman for the U.S.

Drug Enforcement Administration here.

BIRDSONGS: NO FAIR TRIAL

The Birdsong brothers - accused of first-degree murder - complained yesterday that no Philadelphia jury would give them a fair trial because the press already has convicted them for last year's shotgun rampage that killed two people and wounded four others.

Reputed Junior Black Mafia associate Ralph "Hakim" Birdsong, 28, and his brother, Anthony, 31, waived their right to a jury trial and asked Common Pleas Judge Juanita Kidd Stout to decide their fates. The judge scheduled the non-jury trial to start tomorrow.

Assistant District Attorney Jack McMahon, seeking to send the brothers to the electric chair, said he was surprised by yesterday's development because the Birdsongs had previously insisted on a jury trial.

The brothers' alleged rampage in July 1988 was to avenge a fire at the apartment of Ralph Birdsong's girlfriend, where firefighters discovered his $400,000 cache of drugs and cash, authorities say.

Enraged, the Birdsongs burst into the house occupied by those they thought responsible for the fire, and Ralph Birdsong opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun, police said.

Once they finished killing, prosecutors allege, Ralph Birdsong dragged away a 16-year-old girl and raped her.

In court yesterday, McMahon asked the brothers if anyone was forcing them to give up their right to being tried by a jury.

"Yeah, we are being forced," said Anthony Birdsong, "because we can't get a fair trial from a jury."

'HIT MAN' LOSES BAIL

A Common Pleas judge yesterday revoked the $200,000 bail set last summer for alleged Junior Black Mafia hit man Kevin Bowman, 24.

Bowman, accused of controlling cocaine and crack distribution for the JBM in North Philadelphia, was arrested on a minor drug charge Friday.

The district attorney's office requested bail not be set in the drug case, pending a previously scheduled bail revocation hearing yesterday before Judge Charles L. Durham.

Prior to last Friday's arrest, Bowman had been free on $200,000 bail.

BOYFRIEND GUILTY IN SLAYING

After fatally shooting his girlfriend in South Philadelphia last year, the FBI clerk told police, "My career is over."

Kingsley Rowe, 19, of Hoffman Street near 5th, was right.

But he has bigger problems than employment after pleading guilty Tuesday to third-degree murder: He faces up to 10 to 20 years in prison when Common Pleas Judge Lynne M. Abraham sentences him later.

Rowe shot Raenelle Cerdan, 20, in the back of the head while the two were walking on Emily Street near 6th last Thanksgiving Day, said Assistant District Attorney John Carpenter. The victim was a junior at Millersville University.

Rowe told police he was "playing" with a gun while walking behind Cerdan.

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