East Orange Man Arrested in Newark on Multiple Drug Charges

An East Orange man was arraigned today on multiple drug charges following his arrest yesterday afternoon by Essex County sheriff’s detectives.

​Responding to neighborhood complaints of open-air drug trafficking on Mapes Avenue between Osborne Place and Bergen Street in Newark, Sheriff Armando Fontoura stated that his department’s Bureau of Narcotics staged a plainclothes surveillance operation at that location on Tuesday.

​“A suspect, later identified as Taji Whitaker, 27, was observed loitering in front of 152 Mapes Avenue,” Sheriff Fontoura said. “He was soon approached by a male passerby. After a brief conversation with the passerby, Whitaker walked to an abandoned 2001 Honda Accord which was parked nearby. Whitaker then entered the vehicle and removed items from a black plastic bag which he exchanged with the passerby for cash.”

​Following what they believed to have been a drug transaction, the sheriff’s BON detectives moved in to further investigate.

​“A search of the Honda was initiated as Whitaker was detained,” Fontoura said. “The bag was recovered and was found to contain 78 plastic jugs containing ‘crack’ cocaine and 98 grams of marijuana.”

​Whitaker was charged with two counts each of possession of a controlled dangerous substance and possession of CDS with intent to distribute.

​A canvass of the area for the alleged drug buyer was unsuccessful.

​At today’s arraignment, Whitaker was ordered held at the county jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.