Federal officials are worried that a vicious Bloods street gang leader up on murder charges might be planning a prison break -- if not the killing or intimidation of a witness -- after a cell phone was found in his solitary-confinement cell in a New York City jail. Ronald "Ra Diggs" Herron, a self-styled rapper from Brooklyn who has used Twitter and YouTube to threaten violence against informants and the children of police officers, is being held in a special wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan, where a large cadre of ranking Bloods members is incarcerated. Prison officials and US marshals were alarmed by the discovery of the phone in his quarters and fear Herron could have been using it to coordinate plans with other Bloods to stage an escape as he is transported from the Manhattan facility to court appearances in Brooklyn, the sources said. Herron faces a possible death sentence if convicted of a series of murders tied to drug distribution. The security lapse at the facility is even more suspicious, officials say, considering inmates in solitary spend 23 hours a day in their single cells with just one hour out in a solo cage to exercise. Now investigators suspect that Herron has been having a sexual relationship with a female prison guard who may have smuggled in the phone, the sources said. "The government is very concerned about another orchestrated plan by the Murderous Mad Dog Bloods to intimidate witnesses," prosecutor Carter Burwell said in Brooklyn federal court Friday, referring to the street gang headed by Herron Burwell revealed that one of Herron's top lieutenants, Jorge Mejia, tried to scare a witness from testifying in the gang leader's pending murder and drug-trafficking case. The prosecutor also told Judge Nicholas Garaufis that Herron "was in possession of an item" in jail "that could be used to intimidate witnesses" -- referring to the phone. An earlier witness-intimidation campaign occurred when the Brooklyn DA's Office charged Herron in 2002 with the drug-related murder of Frederick Brooks, who was gunned down in June 2001. During the trial, a witness testified she had seen Herron kill Brooks, but two other eyewitnesses declined to take the stand after his Herron's associates threatened to kill them, the feds say, and Herron was acquitted. Last month, Herron was hit with new federal charges for the Brooks killing and two additional murders.
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