Gang leader charged with possession of semi-automatic weapon

NEWARK, NJ — A high-ranking member of a set of the Bloods street gang made his initial court appearance July 8 on charges he possessed a weapon as a convicted felon, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Farod Baldwin, 37, of Newark, was arrested July 7 at the Betty Shabazz Village Housing Complex. He is charged by complaint with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, law enforcement officers were conducting surveillance in Newark when they observed Baldwin park a Jeep Grand Cherokee near an apartment. He removed a 9mm semi-automatic pistol from the Jeep. Officers observed Baldwin tuck the firearm into his pants before entering the front door of an apartment. Law enforcement officers lawfully searched the apartment and recovered the firearm. Baldwin reportedly attempted to flee from the apartment but was apprehended. A further search of the apartment resulted in the seizure of approximately 20 jugs of suspected cocaine base, a bullet-proof vest, two high-capacity magazines, and various ammunition, including rifle ammunition.

Baldwin is allegedly a high-ranking member of a set of the national Bloods street gang known as Sex Money Murder. Members of SMM have been engaging in violent disputes with other gangs, have trafficked narcotics and have committed various firearms offenses. Several recent violent crimes, including shootings and homicides, in Newark and elsewhere, are believed to be related to a dispute between SMM and rival gangs.

The firearms offense carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

The charge and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty.