NEWARK, N.J. - Federal charges were unsealed Tuesday against 14 members of a criminal street gang who allegedly operated a crack distribution network based in Irvington, N.J., following an investigation led by federal agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Special agents and officers with ICE HSI, New Jersey State Police and the Irvington Police Department arrested 10 of those charged at their residences during a coordinated takedown Tuesday morning. They include:
- Mark Manasse, a/k/a "M-Easy," 26, of West Orange, N.J.;
- Akmad Anderson, a/k/a "POP," 25, of Irvington;
- Ligunes Bonnet, a/k/a "LB," 23, of Irvington;
- Jovany Clermont, a/k/a "Rims," 24, of Irvington;
- Donald Duterval, 22, of Irvington;
- David Glass, a/k/a "Grim," 21, of Irvington;
- Israel Petiote, a/k/a "Little Easy," 22, of Irvington;
- Tafary Clervil, a/k/a "Birdie," 25, of East Orange, N.J.;
- Levelston Georges, 21, of Newark, N.J.; and
- Philemon Pierre-Saint, a/k/a "Butter," 26, of Newark, N.J.
Chenete Philemon, a/k/a "Jumanji," 21, of Orange, N.J., was arrested April 9, 2011, on state charges and remains in state custody pending his transfer to face the federal charge. Three of the defendants remain at large including:
- Bradney Manasse, a/k/a "Ice," 28, of Irvington;
- Anquan Clark, a/k/a "GS," 19, of Irvington; and
- Timothy Piercin, 32, of East Orange, N.J.
"Today's arrests of criminal street gang members who strike fear in the citizens of New Jersey's communities demonstrate law enforcement's collective resolve to rid our streets of the senseless violence associated with those who possess and sell illicit drugs," said Peter T. Edge, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in New Jersey. "By combining our resources, intelligence and investigative expertise, we have taken yet another proactive step towards shutting down the destructive drug pipeline in our state."
The criminal complaint alleges that between February 2010 and April 2011, the defendants sold crack cocaine for distribution in the Irvington area. Numerous transactions involved a confidential law enforcement source or were witnessed by law enforcement.
Law enforcement intercepted a number of telephone conversations defendant Mark Manasse had with other defendants on his cell phones, during which the defendants discussed the details of their drug deals. During the calls, he talked about the drug organization's efforts to prepare, package, and distribute crack cocaine. The conversations included discussions about quality, consumer satisfaction, pricing, and the pace of business. The speakers use code words for crack, such as the street word, "buzz," and the term "white candy."
Defendant Mark Manasse is also suspected of attempting to commit acts of violence, including ordering two murders in order to maintain control of this drug trafficking organization. His attempts to orchestrate the two murders were overheard by law enforcement in intercepted phone calls in January and April. After hearing this information, law enforcement was able to identify the intended victim of the first murder and prevent the shooting. Law enforcement also located the intended shooter in the second murder before he was able to carry out the crime.
"New Jersey residents should not have to live in fear of gangs dealing drugs in their neighborhoods. Today's arrests are part of our commitment to attack drug trafficking, and the violence that goes with it, in the streets of New Jersey," said U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman.
The count with which each of the defendants are charged carries a statutory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, as well as a maximum $10 million fine.
Those in federal custody made their initial appearances Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Dickson in Newark federal court. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Robertson and Shana Chen of the U.S. Attorney's Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.