Newark gang members admit to drug and firearm offenses

NEWARK, NJ — Members of the “Famous Boyz” street gang have admitted to firearms and narcotics distribution offenses as part of a drug-trafficking conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced Nov. 26.

Shaka McKinney, 25, of Newark, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo to an information charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Jahid Vauters, aka “k” and “KO,” 31, of Newark, pleaded guilty before Arleo to an information charging him with one count each of: conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 28 grams or more of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base; possessing two firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon; and possessing two firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. As part of his plea agreement, the parties have agreed to a sentence of 10 years in prison.

Karen Armstrong, 29, of Newark, pleaded guilty before Arleo to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base and heroin.

Eugene Williams, aka “Popa” and “Papa,” 53, of Newark, pleaded guilty before Arleo to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base and one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.

Saeed Dawes, aka “Nasty,” 22, of Newark, pleaded guilty before Arleo to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base and heroin.

In October 2018, McKinney, Vauters, Armstrong, Williams and Dawes, and 12 other members of a violent drug-trafficking conspiracy operating in Newark were charged by criminal complaint after a lengthy wiretap investigation with conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and/or heroin. McKinney and Vauters were also charged with firearms offenses.

According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court, the defendants are members and associates of the Famous Boyz — a subset of the Brick City Brims set of the Bloods street gang — which dealt significant quantities of heroin and crack cocaine, in the area of South 18th Street and 15th Avenue in Newark. The gang often referred to this area as the “8 Block,” “18th” or simply by reference to the number “8.”

Members of the Famous Boyz shared narcotics, customers and firearms with one another in furtherance of their narcotics-trafficking activities, and they used juveniles to distribute narcotics and stash firearms. Heroin sold by Famous Boyz members contained a fentanyl analogue, which is an extremely dangerous and highly addictive substance.

Members of the Famous Boyz used social media to promote the gang’s criminal activities, including by advertising their narcotics-trafficking activities and proceeds and by threatening both rival gang members and any individuals who considered cooperating with law enforcement. Those members who sold narcotics also enriched themselves by committing other crimes, including robberies.

The heroin and crack cocaine conspiracy and heroin and crack cocaine distribution counts to which Vauters pleaded guilty each carry a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $5 million. In addition, the firearm possession count to which Vauters pleaded guilty carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, which must run consecutive to any other punishment.

The crack cocaine conspiracy count to which Williams pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $10 million. The heroin conspiracy to which Williams pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $5 million.

The heroin and crack cocaine conspiracy counts to which Dawes and Armstrong pleaded guilty each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $1 million.

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