Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gang Dismantled 'From Head to Toe'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gang Dismantled 'From Head to Toe'

Article excerpt

An "intensive" two-year investigation has dismantled a violent street gang by bringing charges against 71 members and associates in connection with crimes ranging from heroin and cocaine trafficking to witness intimidation and plotting to kill an FBI agent, authorities said Wednesday.

Investigators used wiretaps on 17 telephones, hundreds of hours of surveillance, and informants and undercover agents to make drug buys, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said at a news conference in Newark. Federal, state, Essex County and Newark police agencies delivered a coordinated blow to the Grape Street Crips, he said.

"Quite simply put, we dismantled this organization from head to toe, from the top to the bottom," said Carl J. Kotowski, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's New Jersey Division. "This will definitely have an impact for the people in Newark," he said.

The gang controlled drug sales and other illegal activities in more than a half-dozen neighborhoods and public housing complexes covering large swaths of the city, officials said.

Charges against 34 of the defendants were unsealed Wednesday, Fishman said. Another 16 members and associates were charged in the last two weeks.

All of the defendants are accused of taking part in drug- trafficking conspiracies that involved the distribution of multi- kilo quantities of heroin, cocaine and crack throughout Newark and elsewhere, Fishman said.

In one neighborhood, a group of defendants shared a single "dedicated" community cellphone to handle their crack cocaine sales, Fishman said. That phone made and received over 110,000 calls between May 2013 and January 2015, an average of over 180 calls a day, he said.

Kwasi Mack, 26, of Belleville, the gang's alleged second-in- command, and Corey Batts, 30, of Newark, another senior member who is also known by the nickname "C Murder," were arrested last summer. They are charged in an 18-count federal indictment with numerous violent crimes in aid of racketeering, including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and related gun charges. …

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