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Published On: Sun, Oct 28th, 2018

27 Trenton Defendants charged in takedown of violent Drug Trafficking Gang

Federal criminal charges were filed against 27 individuals who used violence as part of a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of heroin and other narcotics in Trenton and whose members possessed numerous firearms in furtherance of the gang’s activities, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

The complaint unsealed today charges 26 defendants with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Six of the defendants – Jakir Taylor, Timothy Wimbush, Taquan Williams, Jubri West, and Dennis Cheston Jr. – are also were charged with possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Wimbush, Williams, and Cheston are additionally charged with unlawfully possessing firearms after having been convicted of a felony. In a separate criminal complaint filed today, Keyanda Phelps was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. (See attached chart for information on the defendants.)

“Despite progress in reducing gun violence in Trenton, we cannot rest,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “A recent spate of shootings shows that we must always be vigilant, and ready to respond to gang violence. Our message to the Trenton community should be loud and clear: We are here, we are watching, and we will not stand idly by while illegal drug distribution, firearms possession, and violent crime terrorize this great city.”

photo/ Klaus Hausmann via pixabay

“Today’s arrests reflect the commitment of the FBI and our state, local and federal partners,” Gregory W. Ehrie, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Newark Division, said. “We will continue to target these violent offenders who prey on the City of Trenton and the surrounding communities.”

“ATF will always stand shoulder to shoulder with our law enforcement partners in furtherance of our combined goal to reduce violent crime and protect the citizens of New Jersey,” ATF Newark Field Division Special Agent in Charge John B. DeVito said. “This investigation is yet another example of how effective utilization of crime gun intelligence affords law enforcement the ability to successfully identify, isolate and stop those individuals and organizations that endanger our communities.”

The 12 defendants arrested today, as well as 10 defendants who were already in custody, are scheduled to have their initial appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Arpert in Trenton federal court. One defendant is serving a sentence in state prison and will have his initial appearance at a later date. Four defendants remain at-large.

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

From October 2017 to October 2018, the defendants and others engaged in a narcotics conspiracy that operated in the areas of Martin Luther King Boulevard; Sanford, Middle Rose, and Southard streets; and Hoffman and Coolidge avenues. The defendants sought to profit from the sale of heroin and other illegal drugs in Trenton.

Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, controlled purchases of heroin, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that Jakir Taylor and Jerome Roberts obtained regular supplies of hundreds of “bricks” of heroin (a brick is approximately 50 smaller, individually packaged glassine envelopes or baggies containing heroin) from David Antonio, whom they referred to as “Papi.” Other key members of the drug trafficking conspiracy included Omar Council, Gary Ausmore, Brian Phelps, Davias Taylor, and others.

Members of the conspiracy re-distributed the heroin supplied by Papi and other sources, for profit, to other conspirators, distributors, sub-dealers, and end users in and around Trenton. Law enforcement officers intercepted numerous discussions among the conspirators regarding issues such as heroin quality and availability, pricing, packaging, quantity, and customer satisfaction.

To protect their drug-trafficking activities, multiple conspirators possessed, shared, supplied, and actively sought to obtain firearms. Law enforcement seized at least five semiautomatic firearms possessed by members of the conspiracy, including three semiautomatic handguns and an assault rifle located in a vehicle’s secret compartment specially outfitted to hide contraband. On another occasion, Jakir Taylor sent to another conspirator a photograph of three handguns—one outfitted with an extended magazine capable of loading approximately 50 rounds of ammunition—accompanied by a message that read, “War ready.”

The charges filed today come on the heels of a recent spate of gun violence in the area of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Sanford and Middle Rose streets, primary locations of the conspiracy’s drug trafficking operations. The investigation is continuing; however, based on the information and evidence obtained to date, law enforcement has reason to believe that a significant amount of this recent gun violence resulted from an ongoing dispute between members of the conspiracy and a rival gang. The charges are the result of a two-year investigation by the Greater Trenton Safe Streets Task Force. Led by the FBI, the Task Force is comprised of various federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies whose mission is to combine resources and intelligence to enhance the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of individuals involved in gang-related activities, violent crime, and drug distribution in and around Trenton.

The drug conspiracy count carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and a maximum fine of $10 million. The count charging Taylor, Wimbush, Williams, West, and Cheston with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of five years, which must run consecutive to any other sentence imposed, and a maximum potential penalty of life in prison. The felon-in-possession charges against Wimbush, Williams, Cheston, and Keyanda Phelps carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

 

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