Nine members of a drug trafficking organization were charged today in a superseding indictment for their roles in a heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine distribution scheme that sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs out of a residential building on Fairmount Avenue in Newark, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
According to U.S. Attorney Sellinger, the 34-count superseding indictment charges all defendants with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, 400 grams or more of fentanyl, and 280 grams or more of crack from July 2020 through June 2021.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger stated that all defendants are charged with at least one count of distribution and possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances from purchases recorded by the FBI and from drug transactions observed by local law enforcement.
The defendants were originally charged by complaint and arrested on June 29, 2021. Seven of the defendants have been detained since June. (See chart below)
Three of the defendants – Kasim Thurston, Jamar Hall, and Angel Kearney – are charged with firearms violations for possessing firearms and ammunition while having been previously convicted of a felony offense.
Hall and Kearney were also charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
According to U.S. Attorney Sellinger, three other members of the drug organization have previously entered guilty pleas. Elijah Shumate, 50, of Newark, pleaded guilty on January 13, 2022, to conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger stated that Andre Fuller, 31, of Caldwell, pleaded guilty on January 10, 2022, to conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.
Antwan Williams, 30, of Newark, pleaded guilty on December 9, 2021, to conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The defendants allegedly took advantage of the residential building’s location to sell drugs from the porch area, which was guarded by a locked steel door and difficult for law enforcement to infiltrate despite a constant stream of buyers approaching the front porch area day and night. Defendants stored drugs and guns in apartments that they controlled.
The defendants worked in shifts from 6:00 a.m. until late in the evening. Buyers came on foot, in vehicles and on bicycles to purchase the illegal drugs.
The heroin sold was of a high quality and was sold in various “brands,” which were stamped onto the glassine envelopes that contained the heroin and fentanyl, allowing buyers to identify and purchase the brands that they preferred.
FBI surveillance and local law enforcement witnessed hundreds of narcotics transactions from July 2020 through June 2021.
*denotes free on bail