Grape Street Crips Member Arrested for Attempted Murder in Aid of Racketeering and RICO Conspiracy
NEWARK, N.J. – A member of the New Jersey Grape Street Crips who was arrested earlier this week in Durham, North Carolina, on charges that include RICO conspiracy, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder had his initial appearance in federal court today, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Ramon Morales, a/k/a “Ray Rizzo,” a/k/a “Rizzo,” a/k/a “Rizzolini,” 33, of Newark, was charged in a six-count indictment with RICO conspiracy, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, using a firearm during a crime of violence, and conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Morales had his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe L. Webster in Durham federal court and was detained without bail.
According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:
Morales, allegedly a longtime member of the New Jersey Grape Street Crips, attempted to murder Almalik Anderson, a rival of the Grape Street Crips’ leader Corey Hamlet. In 2013, on Hamlet’s orders, Grape Street Crips gang members repeatedly shot and nearly killed Anderson and a woman who was in Anderson’s car. After learning that Anderson had survived the attempted murder and had been responsible for murdering one of their fellow gang members in retaliation for his shooting, Morales and another conspirator met with Hamlet at the Pennington Court public housing complex in Newark. Hamlet told Morales and other gang members that they had the green light to “even the scoreboard,” as told in a contemporaneous letter. Morales and another conspirator then armed themselves and drove around Newark to find Anderson, but were unsuccessful.
Morales also participated in a meeting during which Hamlet ordered another gang member to murder Anwar West, a fellow Grape Street Crips member whom Hamlet perceived had been disloyal by attempting to end the feud between Hamlet and Anderson.
Morales was also involved in the distribution of one kilogram or more of heroin, as well as in transporting firearms from the Durham, North Carolina, area to Newark. On Oct. 30, 2013, law enforcement officers in Maryland stopped a vehicle – driven by a Grape Street Crips member and rented in Morales’ name – that contained three assault rifles and dozens of rounds of ammunition.
More than 70 members and associates of the Grape Street Crips have been charged and convicted since the start of a coordinated federal investigation in the gang’s violent and drug-trafficking activities in 2013.
Morales faces a sentence of up to life for the RICO conspiracy, a sentence of up to life with a 10-year mandatory minimum for conspiracy to distribute heroin, and a sentence of up to life plus a five-year mandatory minimum for using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Morales also faces a sentence of up to 10 years for the conspiracy and attempt to commit murder in aid of racketeering.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and special agents of the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Valerie A. Nickerson with the investigation leading to Morales’ arrest. He also thanked the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II, 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 assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Osmar J. Benvenuto, Chief of the Organized Crime and Gangs Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard J. Ramsay of the 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.