NEWARK, NJ – The leader of one of Newark’s most violent street gangs on Friday admitted his role in five murders, an armed carjacking, an armed robbery of a drug dealer, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and drug conspiracy as part of a racketeering conspiracy involving the South Side Cartel, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Farad Roland, 33, had been charged with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as part of a 27-count second superseding indictment, which was returned in June 2013.
“With today’s guilty plea, Farad Roland’s reign as the leader of the South Side Cartel is over,” Carpenito said. “It is the mission of this office to make the streets of New Jersey safe for all of its citizens. The Roland case is a perfect example of cooperation between my office, the FBI, Newark police and the Essex County prosecutor effectively working to remove a dangerous felon from our community.”
The South Side Cartel was a subset of the Bloods street gang that operated primarily on Hawthorne Avenue in Newark, according to documents filed in the case.
Originally a neighborhood-based gang whose main activities were selling drugs and committing crimes to aid the drug-trafficking business, many of the gang’s members were officially brought into the Bloods gang in 2002 and 2003.
The gang often operated out of apartments located at 496-500 Hawthorne Avenue, which were dubbed “the Twin Towers.” Local law enforcement made repeated narcotics and gun arrests at this location. Many of the South Side Cartel members had tattoos showing the Twin Towers and the logo “SSC,” which represented the gang’s initials.
Between 2003 and 2010, the South Side Cartel was generally known among law enforcement and the FBI as the most violent street gang in Newark, committing numerous murders, shootings, robberies and other violent acts in furtherance of the enterprise.
At its peak, the South Side Cartel had about 20 members or associates, many of whom have since been killed in gang-related murders or who are serving prison sentences for gang-related crimes.
Roland’s two co-defendants, Malik Lowery and Mark Williams, previously pleaded guilty in federal court. Lowery was sentenced in August 2016 to more than 26 years in federal prison. Williams is awaiting sentencing.
Roland's admission of guilt includes his participation in a host of racketeering acts to further the South Side Cartel’s goals, including the Feb. 20, 2005 murder of a Newark resident who was shot during a robbery attempt that Roland ordered one of his gang associates to carry out; the Feb. 23, 2005 murder of the 19-year-old gang associate who committed the Feb. 20, 2005 robbery-murder to prevent him from cooperating with law enforcement and implicating Roland; the Oct. 20, 2007 murder of a fellow South Side Cartel member who had fallen into disfavor with the gang; and the retaliation murders of two people on March 27, 2008 outside the Oasis Bar located on Lyons Avenue in Newark.
Roland also admitted to committing an armed carjacking; an assault with a dangerous weapon in the 2008 shooting of a fellow gang member with whom Roland had a dispute; an assault with a dangerous weapon in the 2009 shooting of a rival gang member; the armed robbery of a drug dealer in East Orange; and conspiracy to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin and 280 grams of crack cocaine.
Farad agreed to a prison term of 45 years under the terms of the plea agreement.
“Today's plea is a direct result of the hard work and dedication shared between state, local and federal authorizes in their efforts to combat violent gangs in our communities,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher said on Friday. “We are committed to combating this epidemic of violence that often takes young lives and creates fear in our communities. The FBI and our partners will aggressively pursue gangs wherever they surface and are steadfast to making Newark and the surrounding communities, a safe place for our citizens.”
Roland is scheduled to be sentenced in May.