Early Wednesday DEA agents and Newark police officers arrested several members of a street gang, known as the G-Shine Bloods, as well as their associates and suppliers on drug-related charges, prosecutors say. Allegedly, a few of the accused used a local recreation center where they worked to stash the drugs.
Twelve individuals were charged with distributing heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine in Newark, including at a public housing complex known as the Broadway Townhomes, according to a criminal complaint.
Each individual faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and possibly life in prison if convicted.
According to the complaint, six other individuals were previously charged.
One individual remains at large, according to prosecutors.
The G-Shine Bloods is a subset of the Bloods street gang and is led by defendants Edward Williams and Wali Duncan, court papers say.
The charges and arrests are the result of a long-running wiretap investigation led by the DEA.
Williams and Duncan allegedly obtained their supply of narcotics from Rahim Jackson and Arthur Hardy, who would deliver the narcotics personally or through runners, according to court documents.
Additionally, the court documents go on to say that on numerous occasions, large narcotics deliveries took place in and around the Rotunda Recreation and Wellness Center on Clifton Avenue, where Hardy was the director and Jackson and Williams were employees.
It was at the recreation center where these individuals stashed drugs and money, according to court documents.
The individuals arrested will appear in federal court in Newark later Wednesday.
Attorney information for the accused was not immediately available.
“That these defendants allegedly used a neighborhood rec center as a place to conceal and sell dangerous drugs is almost beyond comprehension, “ U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement. “While neighborhood children were coming here to play basketball and chess, they may have been just a few feet away from narcotics and the criminals who sell them.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson shared similar sentiments, saying: “Those arrested not only held a community hostage with their violence and drug dealing, but they also utilized a community recreation center to deliver and store their heroin. These people were concerned only with making money with no concern for damage they were causing.”
In a press conference following the arrests, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said that Hardy, who was identified as the "director" of the recreation center by prosecutors is not actually the director, but rather was mistakenly listed as such on the website and is actually a part-time employee.
Baraka said that city policy does not require criminal background checks for part-time employees, however, because of this incident, the city plans to do background checks from now on.
It is unclear why Hardy was listed as the director of the center if, according to the mayor, he is not.