The alleged leader and three other suspected members of Newark’s Grape Street Crips gang were arrested Thursday morning as part of an effort to stem the spate of violence that has marred the New Jersey city in recent months.
The suspected leader, Corey Hamlet, 39, along with associates Sean Scott, 45, Keon Bethea, 33, and Jamil Harrison, 32, were charged with numerous crimes, including RICO conspiracy, use of firearms in crimes of violence, witness tampering, robbery and drug trafficking, authorities said.
All four of the suspected members were remanded at their arraignments Thursday in U.S. District Court in Newark, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
FBI and DEA agents, Newark police, and officers from the Essex County Sheriff’s Department raided several locations and took the suspected gang members into custody, officials said.
The New Jersey Grape Street Crips is the local branch of a nationwide street gang founded in Los Angeles which engages in drug-trafficking and other crimes, law enforcement officials said. Officials say the gang controls much of the heroin trafficking in northern New Jersey.
In addition to the gang’s criminal activities, the gang’s rules say members must retaliate against anyone who cooperates with law enforcement, officials said. Gang members routinely engage in acts of intimidation and violence against witnesses, cooperators, and law enforcement officers, the officials said.
Nine months ago, more than 70 members of the Grape Street Crips, including the No. 2 and No. 3 highest ranking members, were arrested in New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.
“The people of Newark should not have to endure that kind of violence or the fear that it breeds,” Fishman said in a statement.
Andrew Campi, acting director of the New Jersey FBI, said the bust brings Newark closer to “dismantling one of the most violent street gangs in this city.”