Skip to main content
Press Release

Deputy Leader of Violent Grape Street Crips Gang Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison for Murder, Attempted Murders, Plot to Kill Witness, as Part of Racketeering Conspiracy

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

NEWARK, N.J. – The second-in-command of the New Jersey set of the Grape Street Crips street gang was sentenced today to 540 months in prison for his role in committing a murder, participating in numerous attempted murders, plots to kill a state witness and to kidnap a heroin trafficker, and conspiring to distribute heroin, all as part of a racketeering conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Kwasi Mack, a/k/a “Welches,” 29, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to eight counts of the sixth superseding indictment, which charged him with murder and attempted murders as part of a RICO conspiracy, assaults with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to assault with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.

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

Mack admitted that as the second-in-command of the NJ Grape Street Crips he committed the following violent acts in furtherance of the RICO conspiracy: 

  • In August 2006, Mack used two firearms simultaneously to kill a rival gang-member and, in the process, severely injured an individual who was with the rival.
  • On Oct. 10, 2011, during an outdoor cookout, Mack used an assault rifle to attempt to kill a gang-member who had previously cooperated in a murder investigation and whose loyalty to the gang was in question. Mack shot eight individuals, at least two of whom suffered permanent or life-threatening injuries.
  • After being charged by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office with the Oct. 10, 2011, attempted murder, Mack was provided during the discovery process with the identity of the only witness against him. Mack ordered fellow gang-members to kill that witness. Gang-members took substantial steps to carry out Mack’s orders, but the murder never took place.
  • In 2013, Mack and others planned to kidnap a major heroin-trafficker in order to rob him.
  • On Oct. 5, 2013, Mack ordered the murder of a person identified in the indictment as “Victim-1.” On Oct. 27, 2013, following Mack’s orders, several gang-members repeatedly shot Victim-1 and Victim-4.
  • On Oct. 7, 2013, Mack and others participated in the attempted murder of rival gang-members in retaliation for the murder of a fellow gang-member.


Mack also admitted to participating in a conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, possessing firearms in furtherance of the RICO and narcotics conspiracies, using minors to commit these offenses, and engaging in these offenses as a pattern of criminal conduct engaged in as a livelihood.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Arleo sentenced Mack to five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Valerie A. Nickerson, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked prosecutors and detectives of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino, police officers and detectives of the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director Anthony F. 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 Kamar of the Criminal Division, and Richard J. Ramsay of the Office’s Appeals 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.

Updated August 16, 2018

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Press Release Number: 18-278