U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Jersey
(973) 645-2888
December 22, 2015

Member of Grape Street Crips Street Gang Sentenced to Five Years in Prison, Two Other Members Plead Guilty to Drug Trafficking Charges

NEWARK, NJ—A member of the New Jersey set of the Grape Street Crips gang was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for conspiring to distribute crack-cocaine, and two other members of the gang have pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Willie Brooks, a/k/a “Animal,” 24, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge José Linares in Newark federal court for conspiring to distribute crack-cocaine. Max LaRue, a/k/a “Max,” 26, pleaded guilty today before Judge Linares to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute crack-cocaine. On Dec. 21, Tyquan Clark, a/k/a “Tah,” 29, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to Count 21 of the third superseding indictment charging him with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.

According to documents filed in these cases and statements made in court:

The Grape Street Crips controlled drug trafficking and other criminal activities in various areas of Newark. Clark and other members of the gang, including 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;” Jamar Hamilton, a/k/a “Gunner,” a/k/a “Jamaal A. Hamilton;” and Rashan Washington, a/k/a “Shoota,” operated a continuing criminal enterprise in the area of 6th Avenue and North 5th Street in Newark. The enterprise allegedly sold crack-cocaine to other distributors of the drug, including other members of the gang. Brooks and LaRue were two distributors who were members of the gang and obtained crack-cocaine from the criminal enterprise.

To protect their gang and drug territory, the Grape Street Crips used “community guns” that were easily accessible to gang members. 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.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Brooks to five years of supervised release.

The conspiracy to which LaRue pleaded guilty carries a statutory mandatory minimum punishment of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $5 million. His sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2016. The charge to which Clark pleaded guilty carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, and a maximum fine of $2 million. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28, 2016.

U.S. Attorney Fishman 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 Richard M. Frankel, for the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked prosecutors and detectives of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, police officers and detectives of the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Acting Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose, and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Armando B. Fontoura, for their work on the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Osmar J. Benvenuto, Elizabeth M. Harris, and Barry A. Kamar of the Criminal Division in Newark.

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.

Defense counsel:

Brooks: John P. McDonald Esq. Somerville, New Jersey LaRue: Michael J. Pappa Esq., Hazlet, New Jersey Clark: Howard Brownstein Esq., Union City, New Jersey

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