NEWARK, N.J. – Members of the “Famous Boyz” street gang have admitted to firearms and narcotics distribution offenses as part of a drug trafficking conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Shaka McKinney, 25, of Newark, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo to an information charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Jahid Vauters,” a/k/a “k”, a/k/a “KO,” 31, of Newark, pleaded guilty Nov. 25, 2019, before Judge Arleo to an information charging him with one count each of: conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 28 grams or more of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base; possessing two firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon; and possessing two firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. As part of his plea agreement, the parties have agreed to a sentence of 10 years in prison.
Karen Armstrong, 29, of Newark, pleaded guilty before Judge Arleo on Nov. 7, 2019 to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base and heroin.
Eugene Williams, a/k/a “Popa,” a/k/a “Papa,” 53, of Newark, pleaded guilty before Judge Arleo on Nov. 7, 2019, to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base and one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.
Saeed Dawes, a/k/a “Nasty,” 22, of Newark, pleaded guilty before Judge Arleo on Nov. 6, 2019, to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base and heroin.
In October 2018, McKinney, Vauters, Armstrong, Williams, and Dawes, and 12 other members of a violent drug trafficking conspiracy operating in Newark were charged by criminal complaint after a lengthy wiretap investigation with conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and/or heroin. McKinney and Vauters were also charged with firearms offenses.
On Feb. 25, 2019, a grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging three of the defendants, Patricio Hernandez, Jonathan Hernandez, and Jonathan Garcia, a/k/a “Bebo,” with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine for their alleged participation in supplying the “Famous Boyz” with cocaine.
On Sept. 30, 2019, a grand jury returned a 21-count superseding indictment against the remaining defendants and Patricio Hernandez, Jonathan Hernandez, Garcia, Javon Holmes, a/k/a “J-Dot”, and John Mosley, a/k/a “Breezy,” a/k/a “Brazy.” The charges in the superseding indictment are pending against the remaining defendants.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The defendants are members and associates of the Famous Boyz – a subset of the Brick City Brims set of the Bloods street gang – which dealt significant quantities of heroin and crack cocaine, in the area of South 18th Street and 15th Avenue, in Newark. The gang often referred to this area as the “8 Block,” “18th,” or simply by reference to the number “8.”
Mosley was a primary source of narcotics for the Famous Boyz and often directed the gang’s drug operations. He and other members of the Famous Boyz shared narcotics, customers, and firearms with one another in furtherance of their narcotics trafficking activities, and they used juveniles to distribute narcotics and stash firearms. Patricio Hernandez and Jonathan Hernandez were among the main suppliers of crack cocaine to Mosley, while Vauters supplied Mosley with heroin. Heroin sold by Famous Boyz members, including Dawes, Armstrong and Williams, contained a fentanyl analogue, which is an extremely dangerous and highly addictive substance.
Members of the Famous Boyz used social media to promote the gang’s criminal activities, including by advertising their narcotics trafficking activities and proceeds and by threatening both rival gang members and any individuals who considered cooperating with law enforcement. Those members who sold narcotics also enriched themselves by committing other crimes, including robberies.
The heroin and crack cocaine conspiracy and heroin and crack cocaine distribution counts to which Vauters pleaded guilty each carry a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $5 million. In addition, the firearm possession count to which Vauters pleaded guilty carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, which must run consecutive to any other punishment.
The crack cocaine conspiracy count to which Williams pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $10 million. The heroin conspiracy to which Williams pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $5 million.
The heroin and crack cocaine conspiracy counts to which Dawes and Armstrong pleaded guilty each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $1 million.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson in Newark, and officers of the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Director Anthony F. Ambrose, with the investigation.
He also thanked the special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II; the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura; the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; the Belleville Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mark Minichini; and the Livingston Police Department, under the direction of Chief Gary Marshuetz, for their assistance with the investigation.
This investigation is part of the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) in Newark. The VCI was formed in August 2017 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the City of Newark’s Department of Public Safety to combat violent crime in and around Newark. As part of this partnership, federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate and pool resources to prosecute violent offenders who endanger the safety of the community. The VCI is composed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the ATF, the DEA New Jersey Division, the U.S. Marshals, the Newark Department of Public Safety, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, N.J. State Board of Parole, Union County Jail, N.J. State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, N.J. Department of Corrections, the East Orange Police Department, and the Irvington Police Department.
The government is represented by Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division Mary E. Toscano and Assistant U.S. Attorney Angelica M. Sinopole of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations against the remaining defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.