Source: North Jersey.com
U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger has announced that 11 reputed members of Up Top street gang were arrested on drug charges, while two other suspects — already in jail — also were charged in the probe.
Sellinger’s office released a 48-page criminal complaint that included a series of wiretapped phone conversations that took place this past springtime among alleged Up Top members engaged in drug deals.
In a June 4 conversation, one of the accused leaders of the gang told another Up Top member that he found a tracking device used by law enforcement under his Malibu. One of the tapped phone calls came from a federal prison, the criminal complaint said.
“Based on my training and experience, I know that drug dealers and others participating in illegal activity often support their close associates when their close associates are in prison and once their close associates are released from prison,” wrote Special Agent Thomas Gilbride of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in the criminal complaint.
“Based on my training and experience, this includes giving money to a close associate upon his or her release from prison as a means of allowing the individual to re-enter the illegal drug trade more easily,” Gilbride added.
The complaint did not identify the prison caller by name. Eight members of Up Top are in prison after being convicted of various drug crimes in a previous federal crackdown against the gang that culminated with arrests in April 2021.
The gang operates on the block bounded by Rosa Parks Boulevard and Governor, Carroll and Harrison streets, according to federal authorities.
“ATF is dedicated to identifying, disrupting, and dismantling gangs and criminal organizations,” said Bryan Miller, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Newark Field Division, said.
“Not only did they deal these dangerous drugs in Paterson, certain gang members are alleged to have had guns to solidify their control of the drug trade,” stated Sellinger in a press release. “We have no higher priority than taking apart these gangs and addressing the drivers of violence.”
The alleged members named in the case were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. Several other members also were charged with gun possession crimes. Two suspects are still at large.