ELIZABETH, NJ — A six-month joint investigation, spearheaded by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force and the Elizabeth Police Department, has resulted in 16 arrests, numerous criminal charges, and the seizure of illegal drugs and firearms.

The long-term investigation targeted the Grape Street set of the Crips street gang operating in and around Elizabeth. The announcement was made December 8 by acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park, Elizabeth Police Chief Patrick Shannon, and Elizabeth Police Director James Cosgrove.

The investigation was assisted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Linden Police Department. The arrests, which took place from November 25 into last week, were made by personnel from those agencies, plus the Union County Emergency Response Team (UCERT) SWAT Unit, the Newark Police Department Emergency Response Team, the Gloucester Township Police Department Special Response Team, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Union County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit – agencies which also assisted in the execution of six Superior Court search warrants and three other searches taking place in Elizabeth, Newark, and Clementon, a small borough in Camden County.

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The main target of the investigation was Kalil Cooper, 25, a.k.a. “Coop,” the established leader of the Grape Street Crips set in Elizabeth. Cooper was arrested November 25 on the corner of Jackson Avenue and Bond Street in Elizabeth along with Tylik Askew, 27, of Piscataway, and Rahjan Pearson, 30, of Elizabeth, also confirmed members of the gang.

Once those arrests took place, the  search warrants were executed, resulting in the remaining arrests and the seizure of quantities of cocaine, heroin, and prescription pills, plus a loaded AK-47 rifle, a 9mm handgun, drug packaging materials, and multiple pieces of gang paraphernalia.

In all, defendants arrested as a result of this operation included: 

  • Kalil Cooper, 25, of Clementon, a verified member of the Grape Street Crips, charged with first-degree racketeering, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree gang criminality, second-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and three related third-degree drug offenses. His bail was set at $2 million by state Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield, and he was remanded to Union County Jail.
  • Khalif Robinson, 22, of Elizabeth, a verified member of the Grape Street Crips, charged with first-degree racketeering, second-degree possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute within 500 feet of public housing, and two lesser related drug offenses. His bail was set at $500,000 by state Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield, and he was remanded to Union County Jail.  
  • Basir Richardson, 25, of Elizabeth, a verified member of the Grape Street Crips, charged with first-degree racketeering, second-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance with the intent to distribute within 500 feet of public housing, and two related third-degree drug offenses. His bail was set at $500,000 by state Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield, and he was remanded to Union County Jail.
  • Lamar Franklin, 28, of Elizabeth, a verified member of the Grape Street Crips, charged with first-degree racketeering, second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, second-degree possession of an assault rifle, and fourth-degree possession of a high-capacity magazine. His bail was set at $500,000 by state Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield, and he was remanded to Union County Jail.  
  • Naim Franklin, Jr., 18, of Elizabeth, a verified member of the Grape Street Crips, charged with second-degree racketeering and second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun. His bail was set at $500,000 by state Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield, and he was remanded to Union County Jail.    

Charged with single counts of first-degree racketeering as a result of this investigation were Elizabeth residents Lafell Randolph, 19, Damond Dewalt, 23, Ibn Spivey, 23, Jakiel McClinton, 26, Christopher Green, 30, Rahjan Pearson, 30, and Jermaine McDougald, 33, as well as 32-year-old Varrod Parker of Roselle. Bail for these defendants, all confirmed members of the Grape Street Crips, was set at $500,000 apiece by state Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield, and they were lodged in Union County Jail.

Charged with third-degree drug offenses and related drug charges as a result of this investigation were Tylik Askew, 27, of Piscataway, and Elizabeth residents Joel Marelis, 31, and Tony Smallwood, 43.

Convictions on first-degree crimes are typically punishable by 10 to 20 years in state prison, while second-degree convictions result in penalties of 5 to 10 years.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.