ELIZABETH—Federal and county officials arrested 12 people and seized guns and drugs last week in a sweep targeting street gang members. An alleged member of the Bloods street gang and three alleged Bloods associates were arrested who had addresses in Elizabeth.
Overall, three alleged members of the notorious street gang were caught in the raids, which began last Monday under the supervision of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
Three other alleged gang members – all from Elizabeth—remain at large, authorities said.
The suspects were charged in Superior Court in Union County with trafficking automatic weapons and drugs. Some of the alleged dealers sold cocaine and heroin within steps of elementary and high schools in Newark and Elizabeth, authorities said.
“We have suffered for a long, long time with gangs in Union County, particularly in Elizabeth,” Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow said. The prosecutor said the arrests would disrupt drug distribution channels in Elizabeth.
Mayor J. Christian Bollwage has long maintained gangs are not a significant problem in his city, but Romankow contends investigators have identified nearly 300 gang members on local streets.
Bollwage did not comment last week’s arrests.
During the sweep, the task force seized approximately a half-kilogram of cocaine and a quarter kilogram of heroin, four firearms, and one vehicle.
Tylah Boyce, 28, and Sheneka V. Pierce, 33, both of Elizabeth, allegedly distributed quantities of heroin during mid-2008. Joseph Hernandez, 25, of Elizabeth allegedly sold a handgun, to another individual illegally.
Kamal McLeroy, 34, of Elizabeth, and Todd Scott, 25, of Rahway, allegedly conspired and distributed multiple grams of crack cocaine within 500 feet of Fairmount Avenue Park. On May 11, McLeroy was also charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine with Scott. Scott was allegedly accepting delivery of multiple grams of cocaine from McLeroy at the time of their arrest, authorities said. Law enforcement allegedly found multiple grams of crack cocaine in McLeroy’s vehicle at the time of his arrest.
McLeroy also allegedly distributed powder cocaine within 1,000 feet Jefferson House School, while Scott is also accused of distributing cocaine within 500 feet of Lawrence Street Avenue Park, and within 1,000 feet of Dayton School.
Three alleged Bloods gang members remained at large when authorities announced the results of the sweep.
Terrance M. McDougald, 29, of Oakwood Place, Wadner Phillippe, 25, of Chestnut Street and Tyrese Wallace, 30, of Magnolia Avenue, all allegedly distributed drugs.
At least as far back as early 2008, McDougald allegedly distributed heroin and cocaine within 1,000 feet of the Jewish Educational Center, Battin Middle School, and within 500 feet of McPherson Park and Sheridan Park Playground, authorities said. Philippe allegedly distributed cocaine within 1,000 feet of Winfield Scott Elementary School. During mid-2008, Wallace allegedly distributed quantities of heroin.
Special Agent in Charge Weysan Dun of the FBI’s Newark field office remarked, “Based on these and other recent gang-related arrests, our message to gang members far and wide is clear. Around every corner, behind every tree or bush, from every rooftop, and even within your own group, law enforcement is watching and waiting. We are waiting for the right moment, such as today, when you least expect it to end your criminal activities.”
“The streets are safer following these arrests,” Romankow said, “but there is still much work to be done. We, as law enforcement can only do so much. We continue to need the public’s assistance in getting these gang members off the streets. I urge people to contact their local authorities whenever they see suspicious activity or feel their neighborhood is in danger.”
Romankow thanked the FBI for their continuing guidance and support in rounding up violent criminals. “Having a partner like the FBI is critically important to keeping citizens safe and making sure these gang members, those who seek to disrupt society, spend the maximum amount of time behind bars.”
The penalties these defendants face on these state charges range from five to 30 years. No federal charges are expected to be filed against them. However, other defendants already in custody are facing federal charges in this matter, officials said.