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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Grape Street Crips Crack-Cocaine Wholesaler Pleads Guilty To Racketeering, Drug Trafficking Charges

NEWARK, N.J. – A crack-cocaine wholesaler for the New Jersey set of the Grape Street Crips today admitted his involvement in racketeering and drug trafficking conspiracies operating in Newark, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

James S. Gutierrez, a/k/a “Bad News,” 26, of Newark, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to Count 1 and Count 18 of a sixth superseding indictment charging him with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute crack-cocaine.

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

The New Jersey Grape Street Crips controlled drug trafficking and other criminal activities in various areas of Newark. Gutierrez and other members of the gang accepted orders for, and distributed, thousands of clips of crack-cocaine to other distributors, including other gang members.

To protect their gang and drug territory, the New Jersey Grape Street Crips operating in the area of 6th Avenue and North 5th Street in Newark 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.

Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Gutierrez will be sentenced to between 10 years and 14 years in prison and five years of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for May 22, 2017.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski in Newark, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation. He 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 Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Director Anthony F. Ambrose; and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office under the direction of Armando B. Fontoura, for their assistance in this case.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Osmar J. Benvenuto and Barry A. Kamar 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: Edward J. Plaza Esq., Little Silver, New Jersey

Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
17-036
Updated February 14, 2017