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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Jersey

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Craig Carpenito
, United States Attorney

Eleven People Charged in Newark Drug Trafficking Conspiracy in Stephen Crane Village, Including One Charged With Murder

NEWARK, N.J. – Eleven people were charged today for their roles as members and associates of a drug trafficking organization involved in the distribution of narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine base (crack) in the Stephen Crane Village Housing Complex in Newark, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

One defendant is also charged with the murder of a conspirator in an apartment in Crane Village.

The charges and arrests resulted from an investigation led by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and in conjunction with numerous local law enforcement partners and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“The criminal complaint against these defendants details a brazen drug dealing operation going on right out in the open that used violence to accomplish its goals,” Carpenito said. “Thanks to the combined work of our federal, state, and local partners, we have been able to address a substantial threat to the public.”

“Tonight, residents of the Stephen Crane Village Apartments, and the Cities of Newark and Belleville, can rest a little easier,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson said. “Through the relentless efforts of our ATF Newark personnel, along with the unmatched dedication of our partner agencies, we have collectively removed the worst of the worst from our community. These individuals worked in tandem as a hybrid gang, whose community spoilage included drug distribution, and murder. Their ruthless grip on the community has been broken thanks to law enforcement cooperation, and a common mission to remove the most dangerous offenders responsible for violent crime from the community.

“Belleville Police are committed to reducing violent crimes that directly have an impact on our residents,” Belleville Police Chief Mark Minichini said. “Today’s arrests sends a clear concise message that local, county, and state resources will work together to combat these types of crimes thereby making our community safer.”

“No one should have to live in fear in their homes or community,” Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, Susan A. Gibson said. “The defendants in this investigation were using Crane Village as their own personal drug market putting every resident at risk. This multi-agency investigation reinforces our commitment to the safety of the public.”

“Once again, collaboration brings results to a community that has been held hostage by a few people,” Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said. “Our support to our federal partners for making another Newark community ridden of criminals.”

The complaint charges Gary Shahid, 60; Jose Lora, 22; Dayquan Jordan, 25; Ricky Terrell, 23; Charles Mells, 36; Raquan Rawls, 21; Nasir Williams, 23; Quadir Hatcher, 27; Tyree Purkett, 23; James Wicker, 27; and Mayse, 33 – all Newark residents – in one conspiracy spanning February 2019 to February 2020 and involving the distribution of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine base in and around Crane Village. Jordan, Rawls, Williams, Hatcher, and Mayse, are additionally charged with distribution of cocaine base and heroin on Nov. 21, 2019. Mayse is additionally charged with murder during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense.

Seven defendants were arrested today and two – Mayse and Mells – were already in state custody. Two defendants – Rawls and Purkett – remain at large. Those arrested today are scheduled to have their initial appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court.

According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Crane Village is a public housing complex near Branch Brook Park, on the border with Belleville. It consists of consists of standalone buildings, with 354 apartments in total, all of which are accessible via exterior entrances. The buildings are clustered around courtyards and pedestrian walkways with roadways bisecting the complex. Given its location and its layout, which makes it difficult for law enforcement to surveil, Crane Village is the site of an open-air drug market. Since at least February 2019, law enforcement officers have been investigating the organization that controls this drug market.

Through numerous controlled purchases of narcotics, consensually recorded telephone calls and text messages, physical surveillance, and the analysis of telephone call detail records, law enforcement determined that the defendants conspired to distribute narcotics, including heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine base, in and around Crane Village.

The organization used a drug stash apartment in Crane Village to package and store drugs for distribution. On Dec. 15, 2019, Mayse entered the stash apartment and allegedly murdered a conspirator over a monetary debt relating to the distribution of narcotics.

The count of conspiracy to distribute at least 28 grams of cocaine base and a quantity of heroin and fentanyl carries a minimum penalty of five years in prison, maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, and a fine of at least $5 million. The count of distribution of a quantity of heroin and cocaine base carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. The count of murder during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime is eligible for the death penalty, or a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents and task force officers with the ATF, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patterson; the Belleville Police Department, under the direction of Chief Minichini; special agents and task force officers of the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gibson in Newark; the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Director Ambrose; the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II; and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura. He also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service, the Nutley Police Department, the Bloomfield Police Department, the West Orange Police Department, the Verona Police Department, the Orange Police Department and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance with this case.

This investigation is part of the Newark Violent Crime Initiative (VCI), where the U.S. Attorney’s Office has partnered with state, federal, county, and local law enforcement to investigate crime in Newark and the surrounding cities.

This case is also 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 government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Agnew of the Organized Crime and Gangs Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defense counsel:
Shahid: Peter Carter Esq., Newark
Jordan: Stacy Biancamano Esq., Cranford, New Jersey
Terrell: Ernesto Cerimele Esq., Newark
Williams: John McGovern Esq., Newark
Hatcher: Kevin Buchan Esq., Roseland, New Jersey
Wicker: Julian Wilsey Esq., Livingston, New Jersey
Mayse: Richard Verde Esq., Caldwell, New Jersey
Lora: Laurie Fierro Esq., Kinnelon, New Jersey

Newark Field Division