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Press Release

Member Of Grape Street Crips Street Gang Sentenced To Five Years In Prison On Drug Trafficking Charges

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

NEWARK, N.J. – A member of the New Jersey set of the Grape Street Crips gang was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for conspiring to distribute crack-cocaine, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Max LaRue, a/k/a “Max,” 27, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge José Linares Judge Linares to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute crack-cocaine. Judge Linares imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in these cases and statements made in court:

The Grape Street Crips controlled drug trafficking and other criminal activities in various areas of Newark. LaRue other members of the gang operated a continuing criminal enterprise in the area of 6th Avenue and North 5th Street in Newark. The enterprise allegedly sold crack-cocaine to other distributors of the drug, including other members of the gang. LaRue was a distributor who was a member of the gang and obtained crack-cocaine from the criminal enterprise.

To protect their gang and drug territory, the Grape Street Crips used “community guns” that were easily accessible to gang members. 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.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced LaRue to four years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher, for the investigation leading to the charges. 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 Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director Anthony 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 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: Michael J. Pappa Esq., Hazlet, New Jersey

Updated September 21, 2016

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 16-268