UPDATE: Feds Arrest 27 Alleged Essex County Gang Members in Early Morning Raids
NEWARK, N.J. – Twenty-seven people have been charged for their roles as members, associates, and suppliers of a Newark-based drug-trafficking organization that distributed heroin and crack cocaine and used firearms to protect their illegal operation, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
The charges and arrests resulted from a long-running wiretap investigation led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, in conjunction with the Newark Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The charges include operating a continuing criminal enterprise and conspiracies to distribute one kilogram of heroin and/or 280 grams of crack cocaine.
The 20 defendants arrested today are scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III. Five defendants were already in custody on state charges and two remain at large.
“These defendants are charged with orchestrating and participating in a massive drug trafficking organization that pumped heroin and crack cocaine into the streets of Newark and surrounding areas virtually non-stop,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said.
“As alleged in the complaint, they operated out of an abandoned home in Newark that they turned into a fortress protected by illegal firearms, which featured a fast-food-style drive-through window for the quick and easy sale of these dangerous drugs.
We are proud to work with our federal, state, and local partners in targeting criminal organizations like these and bringing the participants to justice.”
“With these types of multi-agency partnerships we can rid the city of some of these criminal gangs that make the neighborhoods they operate unsafe and damage the reputation of the city,” Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said.
“The criminals perpetuate the narrative that Newark is crime-ridden when, in fact, most areas are safe, and the overwhelming majority of people are hard-working folks who want to see their streets cleansed of the criminal element.
I’d like to thank U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and all of our other federal partners for putting their resources into smashing these rings.”
“These arrests are the culmination of the diligent investigative work conducted by our ATF special agents, in cooperation with our federal, state and local partners, who were tasked with targeting violent offenders in the South District of Newark and beyond,” ATF Newark Field Division Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson said.
“These arrests should serve as a warning to those who choose to plague and flood their communities with violence and drugs. Their engagement in such crimes will bring the full force of the federal justice system against them.
ATF would like to especially extend our gratitude to all of our agency partners and the United States Attorney's Office for their continued partnership in combatting violent crime in the greater Newark area.”
“The members of this drug organization went to great lengths to protect their illegal activity by turning an abandoned building into a fortress,” DEA New Jersey Division Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson said.
“The around the clock drug distribution of these drug dealers has been a scourge on the community. The public should know that DEA and all of our partners will continue to work to make every community safe.”
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Several of the defendants charged today are members and associates of a Bloods-affiliated gang called the “CKarter Boys” – a play on “the Carter,” the name of the drug distribution building in the 1991 film New Jack City.
As Bloods members, the CKarter Boys use the letters “CK” to signify “Crip Killer,” a sign of disrespect to their rival gang, the Crips.
The investigation revealed that the organization’s leaders – Shaheed Blake, a/k/a “Sha,” a/k/a “Sha Gotti,” a/k/a “Bruh,” and Anderson Hutchinson, a/k/a “Murda Rah” – operated a massive drug market that operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, flooding the streets of Newark with heroin and crack cocaine and generating approximately $10,000 in daily revenue.
Blake, Hutchinson, and members of their organization sold heroin and crack cocaine to customers out of two neighboring, abandoned houses near the Newark-Irvington border.
These drug dens were located in the heart of a residential community, just two blocks from the Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, an Irvington public school serving children from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.
The organization made efforts to fortify one of the abandoned residences – 921 South 20th Street in Newark – boarding up all doors and windows until it was virtually impenetrable.
The defendants accessed the residence by way of a ladder to a second-floor window, pulling the ladder inside behind them.
Once inside, the defendants would sell heroin and crack-cocaine through a small hole that was cut out on a first-floor outer wall, allowing customers to purchase narcotics in exchange for currency, similar to a restaurant’s drive-through window.
In a backyard shed, the defendants stored narcotics, a communal cell phone that was used to operate the business, and firearms, including a .45 caliber Hi-Point and 9mm Sig Sauer firearms, and several boxes of .45 caliber and .380 caliber ammunition that were seized during the investigation.
In addition to the charges against Blake, Hutchinson, and numerous members of their distribution operation, five of the organization’s drug suppliers were charged.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of ATF, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patterson in Newark; members of the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Public Safety Director Ambrose, and special agents of the DEA-New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gibson, with the investigation leading to the charges.
He also thanked the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II; the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura; the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; the Irvington Police Department, under the direction of Director Tracy Bowers; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of First Assistant Attorney General and Acting Prosecutor Jennifer Davenport; the Belleville Police Department, under the direction of the Chief Mark Minichini; the West Orange Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Abbott; the Livingston Police Department, under the Direction of Chief Gary Marshuetz; the Nutley Police Department, under the Direction of Chief Thomas J. Strumolo; the Orange Police Department, under the direction of Director Todd Warren; and the Verona Police Department, under the direction of Chief Christopher Kiernan.
The CKarter Boys were Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) targets. The VCI was formed in August 2017 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the City of Newark’s Department of Public Safety for the purpose of combatting violent crime in and around Newark.
As part of this partnership, federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate and pool resources to prosecute violent offenders who endanger the safety of the community.
The VCI is composed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the ATF, the DEA, the U.S. Marshals, the Newark Department of Public Safety, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, N.J. State Parole, Union County Jail, N.J. State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, N.J. Department of Corrections, the East Orange Police Department, and the Irvington Police Department.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Desiree Grace Latzer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark.
This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.