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Press Release

Leader of Newark Drug Trafficking Organization Admits Participation in Heroin Conspiracy

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

NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man today admitted his role as a member of a heroin trafficking conspiracy in Newark, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Keith Herd, 32, of Newark, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to a third superseding indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and distribution of and possession with intent to distribute heroin.

Between March and August 2018, Herd and 27 other individuals were charged by complaint with conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine base; one individual also was charged with firearms offenses relating to his drug trafficking. On Aug. 20, 2019, a grand jury returned a 22-count third superseding indictment charging Herd and four other defendants with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and various other drug and firearms offenses; Herd was charged with continuing criminal enterprise for his leadership role in the long-term drug conspiracy. The charges in the third superseding indictment remain pending against two defendants. They are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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

Herd was the leader of a drug trafficking organization that dealt heroin and crack cocaine in and around Newark, specifically around Hayes Street and 14th Avenue in the area of the New Community Corporation community development (NCC). The organization was comprised of members of the Brick City Brim set of the Bloods street gang.

The investigation revealed that in addition to selling drugs, members of the organization alerted each other to police presence and the presence of rival gang members or drug dealers within NCC. The members also shared narcotics supply, narcotics proceeds, and customers, and raised bail money for each other following their numerous arrests. Members of the organization have also engaged in violence and been the subjects of violent crime in connection with their narcotics trafficking activities.

The heroin trafficking conspiracy count carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. The drug distribution and possession with intent to distribute count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $1 million fine. Herd’s sentencing is scheduled for April 26, 2021.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, and members of the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Director Anthony F. Ambrose, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the New Jersey Department of Corrections, the New Jersey State Parole Commission, and the U.S. Marshals Service for their assistance.

The case was investigated as part of the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI). The 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 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, N.J. State Parole, Union County Jail, N.J. State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, N.J. Department of Corrections, the East Orange Police Department, and the Irvington Police Department.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elaine K. Lou and Christopher D. Amore of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

Updated December 15, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 20-460