Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that 27 defendants were indicted by a state grand jury on charges that they were part of a gang-related drug network that distributed heroin in Newark. Eighteen of the alleged drug dealers are charged with first-degree gang criminality as alleged members of the Red Breed Gorillas set of the Bloods street gang.
The New Jersey State Police led a coalition of law enforcement agencies including the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, Newark Police Department and U.S. Marshals Task Force that arrested members of the drug network in January. The arrests followed a 10-month investigation in which investigators discovered that an organized hierarchy of the Red Breed Gorillas street gang controlled the drug distribution in the area of Stratford Place and the Grace West Manor Townhomes on Irvine Turner Boulevard in Newark, contributing to heightened violence and criminal activity in the area. The investigation revealed that individuals who were not members or affiliates of the Red Breed Gorillas were not allowed to sell drugs in that “territory” and faced violent retaliation if they did.
The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau yesterday obtained a state grand jury indictment charging a total of 27 defendants, including three alleged “5-Star Generals” in the Red Breed Gorillas who allegedly supervised the drug network:
Kevin Clayton, 26, of Newark,
Ramon Finklea, 29, of Newark, and
Lyonel Finklea, 31, of Newark.
Those three men and 15 other alleged gang members are charged in the indictment with first-degree gang criminality. In addition, Clayton and Ramon Finklea are charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime. Each of the first-degree charges carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison. Clayton also is charged with unlawful possession of a handgun and possession of a handgun as a convicted felon in connection with a .357-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun seized from his home during execution of a search warrant. All 27 defendants named in the indictment are charged with second-degree conspiracy, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, and they are variously charged with second- and third-degree drug offenses.
“Gangs and street-level drug dealing are the dual catalysts for most of the gun violence in Newark, and these gang members allegedly ran their criminal enterprise in the heart of a residential neighborhood where families and children were put at risk,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This operation is an excellent example of law enforcement agencies cooperating together to enhance public safety by crippling a small army of gang members in Newark.”
“By conducting an in-depth investigation that penetrated the hierarchy of this gang-run drug network, the cooperating agencies were able to charge these alleged drug dealers with first-degree gang criminality, a crime that carries a lengthy prison sentence,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This type of proactive investigation is the best way to dismantle these drug networks and ensure that their members are kept out of commission for years to come.”
“This gang’s control of the neighborhood put residents and children at risk not only by their drug dealing, but as a result of the violence that came with protecting their territory,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This indictment is the result of great work and leadership from the State Police Crime Suppression North Unit and the great work of all of our partnering agencies.”
The enterprise had a clear hierarchical structure. The 27 defendants named in the indictment allegedly filled the following roles in the drug network: (* Indicates charged with 1st-degree gang criminality.)
*Kevin Clayton, 26, of Newark,
*Ramon Finklea, 29, of Newark, and
*Lyonel Finklea, 31, of Newark.
*Jahob Loyal, 27, of Irvington
*Yasin Hamilton, 25, of Rahway,
*Elijah Evans, 24, of Newark,
*Quashyne Seburn, 25, of Newark,
*Kevin Loyal, 28, of Newark, and
*Aljuquan Thomason, 24, of Newark.
Soldiers/Street-Level Drug Dealers
*Tyree Oxford, 23, of Newark,
*Abdul Bryant, 20, of Newark,
*Charlie Jones, 28, of Newark,
*Nyreek Loyal, 22, of Irvington,
*Yasim Smith, 20, of Newark,
*Bryant Hawkins, 39, of Newark,
*Jahwon Christian, 22, of Newark,
*Tyree Williams, 20, of Newark,
*Alquan Shells, 21, of Newark,
Naim Stewart, 23, of Newark,
Terrance Shells, 20, of Newark,
Darnell Cogman, 44, of Newark,
Tyre Sorbino, 18, of Newark,
Ramadan Daniels, 26, of Orange,
Bishop Jackson, 20, of Willingboro,
Wali Johnson, 29, of Newark,
John Doe, known as “Sid,” and
John Doe, known as “Sha.”
Deputy Attorney General Heather Hausleben presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Annmarie Taggart and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa.
Attorney General Porrino commended all of the members of the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression North Unit, State Police Fugitive Unit, State Police Violent and Organized Crime North Bureau, Division of Criminal Justice, U.S. Marshals Task Force, and Newark Police Department who worked on the investigation and made the arrests. Detective Christopher Durning was the case detective for the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression North Unit, under the supervision of Lt. James Hollar and Detective Sgt. 1st Class Brian Ruane and Detective Sgt. 1st Class August Licameli.
First-degree crimes carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The charge of second-degree possession of a gun as a convicted felon carries a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility of five years. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, but for narcotics charges, the fine can be up to $75,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson, who assigned the case to Essex County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.