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Gang leader sentenced to more than 27 years for conspiring to distribute crack cocaine

NEWARK, N.J. — The leader of the Irvington Brick City Brims set of the Bloods street gang was sentenced to 325 months in prison Tuesday for his involvement in a large-scale conspiracy to distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine. The sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Mark Manasse, aka "M-Ease," 28, of Irvington, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Jose L. Linares to one count of a superseding indictment, charging him with knowingly and intentionally conspiring to distribute 280 grams or more of the drug. Judge Linares imposed the sentence in Newark federal court.

According to court documents, Manasse was a leader of the Bloods street gang known as the Brick City Brims, which distributed significant amounts of crack cocaine in and around the city of Irvington and elsewhere from February 2010 through April 2011. Manasse and his conspirators controlled drug trafficking in and around 18th Street and Columbia Avenue in Irvington. Manasse maintained control of drug trafficking in these areas through the use of violence and intimidation.

Manasse and more than a dozen others were arrested April 19, 2011, by HSI special agents, along with officers of the New Jersey State Police and the Irvington Police Department.

During the investigation, HSI special agents used a confidential source to infiltrate the gang. Special agents identified two cell phones Manasse used to conduct his narcotics trafficking activity, and obtained court orders authorizing interception of drug-related phone calls. The agents intercepted thousands of calls during which Manasse discussed, orchestrated and directed the distribution of drugs. The calls also showed that Manasse directed, ordered and participated in acts of violence in order to maintain and protect the gang's drug trafficking activity in Irvington.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Manasse to five years of supervised release. As a special condition of the supervised release, Judge Linares also banned Manasse from associating with any known street gang or organized crime members.