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Press Release

Crack-Cocaine Dealer For New Jersey Grape Street Crips Gang Sentenced To Five Years In Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Newark man was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy controlled by the New Jersey set of the Grape Street Crips, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Rakeem Hankerson, a/k/a “Rocco,” 25, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo to a superseding information charging him with conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of crack-cocaine. Judge Arleo imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

The New Jersey Grape Street Crips gang controlled drug trafficking and other criminal activities in various areas of Newark, including the neighborhood of 6th Avenue and North 5th Street. Hankerson was a member of the New Jersey Grape Street Crips who purchased distribution quantities of crack-cocaine from more senior gang members and sold it to retail level customers on the street.

To protect their gang and drug territory, the New Jersey Grape Street Crips operating in the 6th Avenue and North 5th Street location used “community guns” that were easily accessible to gang members. During the course of the investigation, 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.

Another member of the conspiracy, Christopher Coelho, a/k/a “Brazil,”27, of Newark, was sentenced Sept. 13, 2016, to 10 years in prison and five years of supervised release.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Arleo sentenced Hankerson to four years of supervised release.

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 Timothy Gallagher, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. U.S. Attorney Fishman 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 Department of Public Safety and Newark Police Division, under the direction of Director Anthony A. 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 and Barry A. Kamar of the OCDETF/Narcotics Unit 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:

Hankerson: John P. Holliday Esq., Trenton, New Jersey

Coelho: Samuel M. Braverman Esq., Bronx, New York

Updated September 14, 2016

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 16-256