Members and Associates of Violent Newark Criminal Enterprise Charged with Firearms and Controlled Substance Offenses
NEWARK, N.J. – Two members of a violent street gang operating in Newark were arrested today on charges of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking offenses, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Hazir Burwell, aka “Hazzy,” 19, and Jaizon Bennett, aka “Glizzy,” 19, both of Newark, are each charged by complaint with one count of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. They both appeared today by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor and were and were detained.
“Today’s charges demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of our collaborative approach to combating violent crime,” U.S. Attorney Sellinger said. “We are committed to working with our state and local partners in law enforcement to ensure that those individuals who commit acts of violence and cause harm to our communities are held accountable for their actions.”
“I am grateful for our partnership with U.S. Attorney Sellinger’s office to reduce violent crime in Newark,” Newark Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara said. “These arrests are truly impactful for those in our community most harmed by such weapons of war and dangerous drugs, and this will result in lives saved not only from gun violence, but from drug overdoses as well. Thanks to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the federal charges these suspects now face should send a strong, unified message that we are all very serious about ensuring that our neighborhoods are safe.”
“Today’s arrests are part of an ongoing coordinated strike by law enforcement to address the gang-related violence and reduce the guns and drugs on the streets of Newark,” FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. said. “The Newark Division is committed to working side by side with our local, state, and federal partners to improve the quality of living in our communities.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Since at least February 2021, law enforcement officials have been investigating a criminal enterprise in Newark operating in the area of Evergreen Avenue and Hanford Street, known as “Seth Boyden” or the “500 block.” The investigation, which has been centered on drug distribution and acts of violence that have occurred on and around Hanford Street, a dead-end block just north of Evergreen Avenue, revealed that both Burwell and Bennett are members and associates of this criminal enterprise who distribute controlled substances and commit acts of violence for and on behalf of the enterprise.
Members of the Newark Police Department, with assistance from the FBI, arrested Burwell and Bennett today on state charges that pertain to a March 2021 shooting. At the time of his arrest, Burwell was found in possession of 188 glassine envelopes of suspected heroin; 24 jugs of suspected cocaine base; a 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P semi-automatic pistol loaded with nine rounds of 9mm ammunition; two extended magazines capable of holding 30 rounds of ammunition; and a drum magazine capable of holding 50 rounds of ammunition. At the time of his arrest, Bennett was found in possession of 50 glassine envelopes of suspected heroin and a 9mm Taurus G2C handgun with a defaced serial number, which was loaded with eight rounds of 9mm ammunition.
The charge of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison imprisonment, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Public Safety Director O’Hara, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Crouch in Newark, with the investigations leading to the charges and arrests. He also thanked the Bloomfield Police Department, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the Essex County Department of Corrections and the N.J. State Board of Parole for their assistance.
This case is part of the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) in Newark. 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 to combat 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 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division; the U.S. Marshals; the Newark Department of Public Safety; the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office; the Essex County Sheriff’s Office; the N.J. State Board of Parole; the Union County Jail; the N.J. State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center; the N.J. Department of Corrections; the East Orange Police Department; and the Irvington Police Department.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassye Cole of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.