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U.S. Attorney’s Office And Law Enforcement Partners Seize 352 Firearms In Fiscal Year 2018

guns

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Newark NJ, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today that the District of New Jersey seized 352 firearms as part of criminal prosecutions in Fiscal Year 2018.

The District of New Jersey worked jointly with its law enforcement partners, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and numerous agencies of the State of New Jersey.

Continue reading U.S. Attorney’s Office And Law Enforcement Partners Seize 352 Firearms In Fiscal Year 2018

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More than 2 dozen arrested on Drug Charges in NYC following a ICE and HSI wiretap investigation

August 6,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

New York NY, Thirty-two individuals were arrested Friday on narcotics and gambling charges following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York, working jointly with The New York City Police Department (NYPD). The investigation, being prosecuted out of New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office, uncovered a large-scale alleged cocaine and heroin distribution network centered in the East Village and a related gambling operation located in a busy commercial district near West 11th Street and Avenue of the Americas in the West Village.

Beginning early Friday morning, 32 individuals were arrested in New York City, Massachusetts, Georgia and Florida. An indictment filed by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP) for the City of New York follows a long-term wiretap investigation by HSI and NYPD’s Narcotics Borough Manhattan South, Gang Squad Manhattan South and Vice Squad.

“Those arrested today are not just alleged to have been involved in selling highly addictive drugs on city streets, but they are also connected with a sophisticated underground gambling operation right here in Manhattan,” said Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent in Charge of HSI New York. “Law enforcement always seeks to build on their investigations, consistently seeking to connect the dots. As we continue to work jointly in these operations, HSI and NYPD are able to combine intel and resources to takedown criminal networks like this one.”

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said, “The illegal behavior outlined in today’s indictment will never be tolerated in New York City by the NYPD or any of our law enforcement partners. I commend the attorneys and the investigators at the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor and Homeland Security Investigations, along with our Narcotics, Gang and Vice detectives, for demonstrating time and again that we are patient, and that our collaborative forces have a long reach. We will continue to be relentless in our mission to dismantle these types of illicit operations and bring the criminals who run them to justice.”
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan said, “The disparate criminal schemes orchestrated by this sophisticated and treacherous organization shared a single motivation: greed. Both the gambling operation and the narcotics enterprise charged in the indictment unsealed today preyed on vulnerabilities. While it may be tempting to discount these schemes as victimless crimes, we have learned that drug addiction often leads to overdose and gambling debt to suicide.”

The investigation began with cocaine and heroin trafficking and ultimately led police to a sophisticated illegal gambling operation that catered to a clientele of New York City professionals. The indictment identifies David Diaz as the head of both the narcotics distribution network and the gambling operation, which included the Poker House located at 446 Avenue of the Americas and an online gambling business. DIAZ allegedly ran these interconnected narcotics and gambling operations with assistance from two top associates. Defendant Benjamin Guerrero, maintained an alleged drug stash apartment in a residence occupied by family members at 536 East 5th Street in the East Village and oversaw the packaging and sales of narcotics. Guerrero also served as a “pit boss” for the West Village Poker House. Defendant Geeta Singh, aka “Mira,” served as a manager and promoter for the gambling operation.
Early Friday, NYPD officers and HSI agents conducted court authorized searches in 19 locations, including the alleged drug stash location at 536 East 5th Street and the Poker House at 446 Avenue of the Americas. Police recovered a handgun, a shotgun, an air rifle, a kilogram of suspected cocaine (over two pounds), quantities of heroin, several pounds of marijuana and approximately 2,000 pills of suspected Xanax. Approximately $125,000 cash, multiple money counters, gambling records, thousands of poker chips and two vehicles were also seized during court authorized searches.

Narcotics Operation
At the outset of the investigation in November of 2017, defendants Anthony Delea and Lewis Castro, both alleged members of the Diaz narcotics operation, made multiple narcotics sales to an undercover NYPD officer. On more than one occasion, members of an NYPD surveillance team observed Delea and Castro exit 446 Avenue of the Americas in possession of narcotics prior to making a sale to an undercover. Only later did narcotics investigators learn the address housed a gambling operation.

A clear picture of two interrelated narcotics and gambling schemes emerged once the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the NYPD initiated a four-month wiretap investigation with assistance from HSI New York and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The wiretap investigation initially focused on Castro and expanded to include Guerrero, Diaz and alleged narcotics suppliers Dante Rodriguez, Moliek Hudson and Edward Aigbojie.
As detailed in the indictment, a total of nine defendants are charged with engaging in 25 narcotics sales with undercover officers and additional sales to other individuals. Defendants used coded language to discuss narcotics transactions by phone. While several undercover sales took place in the vicinity of the West Village Poker House, the majority occurred in the vicinity of 536 East 5th Street drug stash apartment and elsewhere in the East Village. Defendant Luis Chevres, aka “Presulo,” allegedly sold narcotics to an undercover officer on multiple occasions at a barbershop located at 2nd Avenue and Houston Street. Several of the larger drug sales involved undercover officers purchasing nearly $5,000 in cocaine and heroin at a time. In all, the defendants sold approximately $50,000 in narcotics to undercover officers.
Diaz and Guerrero allegedly received drug deliveries Rodriguez, who resides in Yonkers, N.Y., Hudson, who is based Deltona, Fla., and Aigbojie, who resides in Brooklyn. AIGBOJIE allegedly served as a middleman for Hudson and was also an avid gambler at the Poker House.

Gambling Operation
While the narcotics-related investigation was underway, an NYPD undercover officer with the VICE Squad successfully penetrated the West Village gambling house and participated in poker games with the regular clientele. As a result of the combined efforts of the undercover operation and the wiretap investigation, police were able to identify the hierarchy and methods of the gambling operation.
As charged in the indictment, Diaz allegedly oversaw the entirety of the gambling operation, while Guerrero serving as “pit boss” on multiple nights per week. Guerrero’s brother, defendant Alberto Guerrero allegedly held accounts associated with the Poker House in his name and received income from the gambling operation. Alberto Guerrero, who resides in Amherst, Mass., and Diaz are charged with money laundering in the second degree.
The Poker House operated from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. and consisted of two floors that accommodated approximately 30 players at a time. Players at lower stakes tables on the first floor were required to purchase a minimum of $200 in chips, while higher stakes players upstairs were required to purchase $500 in chips. Each game lasted two hours, enabling tens of thousands of dollars to change hands in a single night. Players who left before the two hours were up forfeited their chips. Proceeds of the illegal gambling operation were used to fund further narcotics trafficking.
The entrée for Poker House clients was through defendant Geeta Singh, aka “Mira,” who managed and promoted the gambling operation remotely from her residence in Atlanta, Ga. and oversaw a related online poker business. Among the methods Singh allegedly used to draw high stakes clientele were event listings through the online service Meetup. Clientele for the poker games were thoroughly vetted and were required to show a text message from Singh in order to gain entrance to the Poker House.

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U.S. Marshals Service and NJ Attorney General’s Office direct multi-agency collaboration targeting gang members in “Operation Summer in the City”

west side story

August 6,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and U.S. Marshal for the District of New Jersey Juan Mattos today announced that federal, state, and local agencies have united with the U.S. Marshals Service to help reduce gang violence across the state of New Jersey in Operation Summer in the City. The U.S. Marshals Service in the District of New Jersey and the U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force conducted this collaborative effort involving all levels of law enforcement as an extension of the U.S. Marshals Gang Enforcement Program. The initiative came out of a meeting between Attorney General Grewal and U.S. Marshal Mattos at which they discussed strategies for reducing violent crime across the state. This one week fugitive initiative during July targeted New Jersey’s gang members and most violent offenders. This operation resulted in the arrest of 166 fugitives, which included 61 documented gang members including 42 Bloods, 13 Crips, 3 Latin Kings, 1 Surenos, and 1 Trinitarios member.

Operation Summer in the City was conducted throughout the Cities of Newark, Trenton, Jersey City, and Camden from July 16 through July 20. The objective was to strategically target the State’s most dangerous fugitives in order to curb the violence in these cities, and have a direct impact on the quality of life for the residents in these communities. Marshals and task force officers focused on targeting fugitives with violent charges as well as documented gang members. Not only were some of New Jerseys most violent offenders apprehended during this operation, but law enforcement also seized guns, drugs, and money. Of these notable seizures, 11 firearms, 7.15 kg in narcotics, one vehicle, and $100,000 in cash were confiscated.

The U.S. Marshal for the District of New Jersey, Juan Mattos states, “The U.S. Marshals Service is thankful for the relationships that we have with our city, county, state, and federal law enforcement partners that worked tirelessly in sweltering and scorching conditions to make ‘Operation Summer in the City’ a huge success. We heard the public’s pleas for help and their expressions of gratitude for making their neighborhoods safer as a result of these arrests. We listened to you loud and clearly, and we will continue pursuing these violent fugitives that are hiding in every corner of your city.”
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal states, “Upon becoming Attorney General, I promised to make fighting violent crime a top priority, and this operation is part of delivering on that promise in a collaborative way. Law enforcement throughout New Jersey has a tremendous partner in the U.S. Marshals Service, and our strategy in ‘Operation Summer in the City’ was to conduct the type of operations that the U.S. Marshals conduct every day, but multiply our forces so we could blanket these four cities with deputy marshals and other law enforcement officers and target New Jersey’s most dangerous fugitives. This collaboration, including the tremendous work of our county prosecutors’ offices, who are prosecuting the overwhelming majority of these fugitives, is a great example of how we are working together to reduce and prevent violent crime in New Jersey. In fact, six-month data for 2018 shows a decline of 24 percent in shooting ‘hit’ victims in New Jersey compared to the same period in 2017, and a 23 percent decline in shooting murder victims, and I think that law enforcement is having a real impact in these declines by leveraging the great cooperative relationships we have fostered and sharing intelligence to address major causes of violence. Law enforcement agencies work best when they work together, and this sweep of gang members and violent offenders is an outstanding example.”

The U.S. Marshals Gang Enforcement Program is part of the Agency’s Organized Crime and Gangs Branch (OCAG). Through strategic fugitive investigations, the OCAG seeks to disrupt and destabilize criminal networks holistically, from the street level gangster to high-ranking leaders of the most notorious Transnational Criminal Organizations. In the state of New Jersey alone, the U.S. Marshals Service Gang and Regional Fugitive Task Forces have arrested 242 documented gang members from January through July of this year. In that same time frame, a total of 1,489 fugitives have been arrested by U.S. Marshals Task Forces in New Jersey and that number continues to grow, as each and every single day, some of the most violent offenders in the state are apprehended.

The full list of participating Law Enforcement agencies include:
United States Marshals
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
United States Postal Inspection Service
Homeland Security Investigations
ICE
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey
NJ State Police Gangs and Organized Crime Unit, Fugitive Unit, and K-9
New Jersey Parole
New Jersey State Police
New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice
New Jersey Department of Corrections
Port Authority Police Department
Essex County Sheriff’s Office
Essex County Prosecutor’s Office
Hudson County Sheriff’s Office
Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office
Union County Sheriff’s Office
Mercer County Sheriff’s Office
Trenton Police Department
Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office
Mercer County Prosecutors Office
Burlington County Sheriff’s Office
Ocean County Sheriff’s Office
Camden County Sheriff’s Office
Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office
Camden County Prosecutor’s Office
Deptford Police Department
Camden County Metro Police Department

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ICE Teams Up with HSI to Put New Jersey Man Away in Operation Predator for Child Porn

ICE

June 12,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

NEW YORK — Following an investigation and subsequent arrest made by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York, A New Jersey man was sentenced in the District of New Jersey Tuesday to 480 months in prison for producing and possessing images and videos of child sexual abuse. This sentencing comes on the heels on a 25 year sentence from the Eastern District of New York.
Gregory John Schaffer, 39, of Bayonne, NJ, was previously found guilty on all three counts of an indictment charging him with two counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He was convicted following a three-day trial before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares, who imposed the sentence Tuesday in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in the case and the evidence at trial, in 2010, Schaffer sexually abused a 12-year-old girl in a tow-truck office in Union City, New Jersey, and video recorded the abuse without her knowledge. He later stored the video recording on a laptop computer found by law enforcement in his office in Jersey City, New Jersey. Schaffer also backed-up the video recording to another electronic storage device found in his office.
Around the same time, Schaffer also sexually abused a 14-year-old girl in a hotel room and video recorded the abuse without her knowledge. Schaffer again stored the video recording on the same laptop computer and electronic storage device that law enforcement found in his office.

Law enforcement also found additional sexually explicit videos and images of minors on Schaffer’s laptop computer and electronic storage device.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Schaffer to lifetime supervised release. On July 24, 2015, Schaffer was sentenced in the EDNY to 25 years in federal prison and lifetime supervised release for violating Title 18 USC 2422 (a) – travel in interstate commerce to engage in sexual activity and Title 18 USC 2422 (b) – to persuade, induce, coerce and individual who has not attained the age of 18 years to engage in sexual activity.

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 800 victims identified or rescued.