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Press Release

Eight Defendants Charged for Their Roles in Heroin, Fentanyl, and Crack Cocaine Conspiracy

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

NEWARK, N.J. – Eight people were charged for their respective roles in a heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine distribution organization that sold large quantities of controlled substances in the area of Columbia Avenue and South Orange Avenue in Newark, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Zacqual Lancaster, Maurice Lee, Felix Lesperance, Rodger Busby, Marcellus Allen, Jack Jean-Baptiste, Trevon Smith, and Natequah Polk, all of Newark, are each were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, 40 grams or more of fentanyl, and 28 grams or more of crack cocaine. Seven of the defendants are in custody and are scheduled to have their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge André M. Espinosa in Newark federal court. Lancaster remains at large.

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

Since January 2022, law enforcement conducted extensive surveillance of an open-air narcotics market in the area of Columbia Avenue and South Orange Avenue, conducted numerous controlled purchases of narcotics, and analyzed telephone records, all of which demonstrated the extensive interactions between and among the conspirators. 

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; members of the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director Fritz G. Fragé; and members of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The investigation was conducted as part of the Newark Violent Crime Initiative (“VCI”).  The Newark VCI was formed in August 2017 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the City of Newark’s Department of Public Safety for the sole purpose of combatting violent crime in and around Newark.  As part of this partnership, federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate and pool resources to prosecute violent offenders who endanger the safety of the community.  The VCI is composed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the ATF, the DEA, the U.S. Marshals, the Newark Department of Public Safety, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, New Jersey State Parole, Union County Jail, New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, New Jersey Department of Corrections, the East Orange Police Department, and the Irvington Police Department. 

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Frazer of the Organized Crime/Gangs Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dong Joo Lee of the Narcotics/Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated October 21, 2022

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 22-393