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Press Release

Member of Newark Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin and Crack Cocaine

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

NEWARK, N.J. – A Newark man was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute over a kilogram of heroin and 240 grams of crack cocaine, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Maurice McPhatter, a/k/a “Ree,” 47, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and more than 28 grams of cocaine base. Judge McNulty imposed the sentence today.

Today’s sentence follows a coordinated takedown in September 2017 of seven members of a drug trafficking organization led by Ahmad Johnson, a/k/a “OC,” 38. Also charged were Cory Canzater, a/k/a “Big C;” Willie McPhatter, a/k/a “Roc;” Keith Henderson, and Sacha Negron, all of Newark. 

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

From September 2016 through June 2017, Maurice McPhatter, Johnson, and other members of their drug trafficking organization engaged in a drug distribution conspiracy that operated in and around Newark. Maurice McPhatter was a runner, who distributed narcotics for the organization.

Through the authorized interception of telephone calls and text messages, controlled purchases of heroin, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative means, law enforcement learned that Johnson was a leader of the conspiracy and was responsible for obtaining wholesale amounts of narcotics, including heroin and cocaine, and processing and packaging the narcotics for sale. Johnson found users to “test” the narcotics to evaluate the quality, potency, and danger for broader distribution. After the narcotics were tested, runners, including Maurice McPhatter, sold the narcotics to other distributors and users. At the time of the arrests, law enforcement found over a kilogram of heroin, over 200 grams of crack cocaine, and over 150 grams of fentanyl.

Johnson pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy and was sentenced on April 15, 2019, to 180 months in prison. Willie McPhatter, Henderson, and Negron have all pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges and are awaiting sentencing.  Canzater was convicted in March 2020 of one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances, one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute heroin and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, following a one-week trial before Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court. Canzater is awaiting sentencing

In addition to the prison term, Judge McNulty sentenced Maurice McPhatter to five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents and officers with DEA’s High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Group 1, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

This case is being conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). 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.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia Astorga and Ari B. Fontecchio of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

Updated October 5, 2022

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 20-142