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Grape Street Crips Gang Member Goes to Prison for Crack Distribution

MAY 24 (NEWARK, N.J.) –– Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division and William E. Fitzpatrick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey announced today a gang member, Ernest Valentine, aka “Bop,” who sold crack-cocaine for the New Jersey Grape Street Crips gang was sentenced to 112 months in prison. In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Valentine to five years of supervised release.

The New Jersey Grape Street Crips controlled drug trafficking and other criminal activities in various areas of Newark, including the neighborhood of 6th Avenue and North 5th Street. Valentine obtained crack-cocaine from more senior gang members and associates who used and shared a dedicated cell phone to accept orders for thousands of clips of crack-cocaine. These gang-members included Hakeem Vanderhall, a/k/a “Keem,” a/k/a “Sugar Bear,” Eric Concepcion, a/k/a “Eddie Arroyo,” a/k/a “E-Wax,” a/k/a “Wax,” and Rashan Washington, a/k/a “Shoota.”

To protect their gang and drug territory, the New Jersey Grape Street Crips operating in the 6th Avenue and North 5th Street location used “community guns” that were easily accessible to gang members. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement agents seized numerous firearms, including a .410 caliber assault rifle, a.45 caliber Thompson semi-automatic carbine, a 7.62 caliber assault rifle, and numerous semi-automatic handguns.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Carl J. Kotowski, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Timothy Gallagher, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Osmar J. Benvenuto and Barry A. Kamar of the OCDETF/Narcotics Unit of the Criminal Division in Newark.


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