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Notorious Newark Drug Dealer Convicted on All Counts
NEWARK – GERARD P. MCALEER, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division and CHRISTOPHER J. CHRISTIE the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, announced a federal court jury today convicted a notorious and violent heroin and cocaine trafficker of all 11 counts against him for conspiracy and money laundering in connection with his leadership of a ring that sold thousands of pounds of drugs in Essex and Union County neighborhoods over at least five years.
Hakeem Curry, 30, of Newark, faces a probable sentence of at least 30 years in federal prison and as much as life in prison. There is no parole in the federal system.
The jury convicted Rakim Baskerville, 31, of Newark, a street-level manager, on the main drug conspiracy count. Although Baskerville was not charged with money laundering he still faces the same prison sentence as Curry.
The jury began deliberating Thursday afternoon and returned its verdicts this morning. The 10-week trial before U.S. District Judge Faith S. Hochberg began with opening arguments on May 22, 2006. No sentencing date was set today.
Testimony from cooperating witnesses and other evidence revealed that Curry arranged at least two murders, one of a street drug-dealing competitor, Darnell “Buck” Anderson in 2001, the other a March, 2004 execution-style slaying of Derrick Berrian, who had been scheduled to testify in state Superior Court against a friend of Curry’s.
The case was tried by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Gay and Robert Frazer. The two year investigation of Curry and his drug organization was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Newark Police Department.
“These are exactly the people who for too long have ruined the quality of life for the citizens of Newark and other cities in New Jersey,” Christie said. “They are remorseless monsters who sow fear and intimidation in neighborhoods, who perpetuate the drug trade and poison our children with crack and heroin. We will seek the maximum possible sentence to ensure as best we can that neither Curry nor Baskerville ever expend another breath on the streets of Newark or New Jersey.”
“There are more like Curry and Baskerville to be dealt with,” Christie
said. “But the commitment by this office has never been stronger
to target and prosecute such
important is the message that witness intimidation, even murder, can
“It’s a great day for the citizens of Newark,” said Gerard P. McAleer, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in New Jersey. “This is an important result of our law enforcement efforts and rids the streets of the dangerous, violent menace that Curry and Baskerville embodied.”
McAleer thanked and congratulated Christie and the trial team for the convictions of Curry and Baskerville.
For years, the Curry organization was estimated to supply approximately 85 percent of the heroin in Newark and was known to have the highest quality heroin in the city. The organization also supplied 30 to 50 kilograms of cocaine a week through its network of street-level managers and distributors. At its height, the organization brought in millions of dollars a year in drug profits according to cooperating witnesses and other evidence.
Efforts to kill witnesses, both before and after the trial commenced, were stopped by various law enforcement agencies. Cooperating witnesses testified despite real and imminent threats to their lives. Curry, according to testimony, lived the high-style life of a drug kingpin. He drove a $120,000 Mercedes Benz and an $80,000 Land Rover, lived in a luxury apartment, bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of custom-made jewelry and took lavish trips to various sporting events around the country.
The convictions were as follows:
• Curry and Baskerville: guilty on Count One, drug distribution conspiracy. The jury also found that the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the conspiracy involved at least five kilograms or more of cocaine and, separately, at least one kilogram of heroin. The maximum penalty is 30 years to life. The latter findings by the jury increases the federal sentencing guideline levels to allow for a possible life sentence.
• Curry: guilty
on Count Two, distribution or possessing with intent to distribute
• Curry: guilty on Count Three through Count Eleven, each charging money laundering in the approximate amounts, respectively, of $55,000, $55,000, $26,640, $70,000, $74,000, $5,610, $1,000, $29,980 and $50,000. The maximum penalty on each count is 20 years.
Christie praised the trial team of Gay and Frazer, as well as DEA Special Agents and Task Force Officers, for their work during the investigation and trial. Christie also credited the Newark Police Department and the United States Marshal’s Service.