DA: Fifth Ward’s cell phone robbery kingpin, ‘T-Streets,’ sentenced 25 years to life

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HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A man, described by prosecutors as the mastermind behind a violent crime wave across the Houston area, has been sentenced 25 years to life in prison following a spree of phone store robberies.

Prosecutors have crowned Terrence “T-Streets” Edwards the kingpin of cellphone robberies.

Edwards, 26, is a documented member of the Fifth Ward Circle street gang, but those who robbed for him were members of various criminal organizations who had gotten together to make quick cash. The robbers stuck guns in the faces of customers and employees and herded them into back rooms, investigators said.

“T-Streets will be off the streets for decades,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “These gang members placed innocent citizens in fear for their lives.”

Prosecutors said hundreds of phones, especially iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices, were taken during a half dozen robberies carried out in 2015, but the crime group was believed to have had a hand in scores of previous heists.

In one job under Edwards’ direction, his robbery team shot at a witness and at a Houston Police officer while trying to escape. Prosecutors said Edwards recruited teenagers and others to commit the robberies, which he set up and supervised.

He provided participants with stolen cars and high-powered firearms with extended magazines. The stolen high-end phones would later be resold to fencing operations that would send them on to Dubai and other countries, according to a news release.

According to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Edwards was convicted after a complex two-week trial and the court will begin deliberations on his punishment June 9.

“We resorted to this statute, with unusually harsh penalties, because this robbery kingpin posed such a continuing threat to public safety,” Ogg said.