A superseding indictment is being brought against 28 members of the Bloods street gang off-shoot that operated in the city, announced the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday afternoon.
The indictment formally charges the 28 gang members, mostly from the Fruit Town Brims and Sex Money Murder sets, with “distribution and possession with the intent to distribute heroin, “crack” cocaine, and powder cocaine.”
Three members, who used illegal guns in their drug activities, have been charged with “brandishing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking activity,” according to the FBI.
Authorities said of the 28, nine of whom were arrested during a weekend sweep by the city’s police department, were presented before Judge Debra Freeman at the Manhattan federal court on Monday afternoon, and each was taken into federal custody. Five others remain in state custody, and will be transferred soon. Nine others have been detained previously and remain detained.
Only one defendant, the only one the FBI named in its announcement, remains at large. Hakim Lowery, remains at large, according to the bureau.
The two sets controlled large swathes of the city’s interior. According to the FBI the gang controlled: “North Main Street from East Main Street to Jefferson Street (an area known as “The Main”); Graham Avenue/Rosa Parks Boulevard from Lyon Street to Franklin Street (“The Boulevard”); Graham Avenue/Rosa Parks Boulevard from 12th Avenue to Hamilton Avenue; 12th Avenue from East 22nd Street to East 24th Street; 10th Avenue from East 26th Street to East 30th Street; Governor Street from Graham Avenue to Summer Street (“Up the Hill”); and Park Avenue from Madison Avenue to East 16th Street.”
Members of the gang were freely using the aforementioned streets to further their drug trade while violently beating out any competition that attempted to encroach on their territory. “Members of the Paterson Bloods were permitted to sell heroin and “crack” cocaine in these areas,” according to the bureau. “Generally, non-members, outsiders, and rival narcotics dealers were prohibited or prevented from distributing narcotics in areas controlled by the Paterson Bloods.”
Neighborhood dealers, who were born or raised in the area, as well as marijuana dealers, were granted permission to deal in the area, but without the protection of the gang. Dealers doing business in the area without protection were often robbed and maimed by gang members. Any gang member who offered protection to a non-member was punished.
The FBI cites a recent example, “On June 17, 2013, a drug dispute broke out in the area of 12th Avenue and 22nd Street, during which the defendant Rachaun Parker, a member of the Fruit Town Brims set of the Bloods, assisted an individual who was considered a “neutral” from his neighborhood. Members of the Fruit Town Brims, including defendants Hakim Lowery and Jamar Edwards, violently beat Parker for violating the rules of the set.”
Members of the gang were ready to beat and kill to protect and further their drug trade while protecting fellow gang members.
“Members of the Paterson Bloods and their associates committed and conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence to protect and expand their drug trafficking operations and to protect fellow members of the gang,” according to the FBI. “These acts included beatings, stabbings, and shootings intended to prevent people not affiliated with the Paterson Bloods from distributing narcotics in areas controlled by the gang, or to dissuade members of rival gangs, such as the Latin Kings, from encroaching on territory controlled by the Paterson Bloods.”
Gang members conspired to expand their reach beyond the Silk City by exporting heroin and crack to the Bronx, Manhattan, and New Jersey. “On at least two occasions, certain defendants, armed with loaded guns, delivered what they believed to be approximately one kilogram of cocaine to an address in the Bronx in return for delivery fees,” according to the bureau.
“Once again we see the convergence of drugs, guns, and violence that plagues neighborhoods, threatens their inhabitants, and spreads potentially lethal narcotics from city to city and across state lines,” said Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “To keep our neighborhoods free of illegal drugs and gang violence, we will continue to work closely with our local law enforcement partners to vigorously enforce federal drug and firearms laws.”
The FBI worked with the Clifton and Paterson police departments in order to arrest and prosecute the gang members. “It is critically important for cities like Paterson to leverage their existing collaborative relationships,” said William Fraher, the city’s police chief, “with federal and local law enforcement to reduce not only the actual violence in our communities but also reducing the perception of fear which can be just as important.”