Ten members and associates of Paterson’s “UpTop” gang have been arrested for distributing drugs, including fentanyl-laced heroin, according to acting U.S. attorney Rachael Honig’s office.
Corey Boyd, 23; Leo Edwards, 27; Kwame Ellis, 30, Sean Morgan, 21; Brent Staton, 20; Kassan Drakeford, 31, all of Paterson; and Stefan Cameron, 25, of Hackensack, were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, fentanyl and cocaine base.
Also charged were Devin Kyle, 21; Edwin Diaz, 19; and Anthony Herring, 38, all of Paterson. Kyle, Diaz, and Herring were already in state custody on other charges, authorities said.
Authorities said all ten people are members or associates of the UpTop street gang, which operates on Governor and Carroll streets. It also controls the area around the Inca Village Housing complex and Harrison Street between Rosa Parks Boulevard and Carroll Street. They engaged in the distribution of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine base from their turf.
UpTop gets its name from its location being known in the neighborhood as the “up the hill” in the 4th Ward. Some members of the UpTop were previously members of the 230 Boys, a street gang that operates in and around Rosa Parks Boulevard and Godwin Avenue.
UpTop had a longstanding alliance with 230 Boys, authorities said. Members of the gang are involved in an ongoing feud with other street gangs in the 1st and 4th wards like the 100K Boys and the Trinitarios.
Law enforcement agencies investigated the gang from January 2020 through April 29, 2021. They conducted controlled buys, recorded phone calls and text messages, analyzed telephone records, and conducted physical surveillance.
Members of UpTop gang compete with each other for customers, but worked together to keep outsiders from encroaching on their turf. They also worked together to hinder law enforcement from identifying gang members and making arrests.
The UpTop gang used abandoned buildings and yards to stash drugs. They also negotiated drug sales inside and around various business within the gang’s turf, authorities said.
The alleged gang members could face 40 years in prison if convicted.
Federal and local law enforcement agencies worked together to dismantle the gang, authorities said.
“Today’s takedown of gang members is a major victory for the residents of Paterson. Public safety has been a critical component of the foundation of my administration’s agenda and today’s charges speak to the need for aggressive measures against those who strike fear in our residents and violate our quality of life,” mayor Andre Sayegh said after the bust. “I’d like to offer my gratitude to the U.S Attorney’s Office, ATF and the other agencies that were involved in this operation.”
Updated 3:02 p.m.