Trenton Man Admits Role in Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy
TRENTON, N.J. – A Trenton man today admitted his role in a violent drug trafficking conspiracy that allegedly distributed more than one kilogram of heroin in Trenton and the surrounding area, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Donte Ellis, a/k/a “Shalant,” 41, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. Ellis also admitted to possessing a firearm during the offense.
In October 2018, Ellis and 25 other members of a drug trafficking conspiracy operating in Trenton were charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute heroin. Ellis is the first of the defendants to plead guilty. On Feb. 21, 2019, a grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging four defendants, Jakir Taylor, a/k/a “Jak”; Jerome Roberts, a/k/a “Righteous”; David Antonio, a/k/a “Papi,” a/k/a “Victor Arias”; and Wayne K. Bush, with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Taylor also was charged in the indictment with possessing of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The charges in the criminal complaint remain pending against the other 20 defendants.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From as early as October 2017 to October 2018, the defendants and others engaged in a narcotics conspiracy that operated in the areas of Martin Luther King Boulevard, Sanford Street, Middle Rose Street, Southard Street, Hoffman Avenue, and Coolidge Avenue in Trenton, and which sought to profit from the distribution of heroin and numerous other controlled substances. Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, controlled purchases of heroin, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that defendants Jakir Taylor and Jerome Roberts obtained regular supplies of hundreds of “bricks” of heroin from defendant David Antonio, whom they referred to as “Papi.” The investigation revealed that in September and October 2018, Ellis—who had been released from state prison in August 2018 for a prior conviction for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder—obtained large quantities of heroin on multiple occasions from Jakir Taylor, which he redistributed to others in and around Trenton. The investigation also revealed that, on several occasions when he obtained supplies of heroin from Taylor, he also obtained a firearm from Taylor for protection in re-distributing the narcotics.
The drug conspiracy count to which Ellis pleaded guilty carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $5 million. Sentencing is scheduled for June 13, 2019.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Trenton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie; special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Newark Division, Trenton Satellite Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Christopher Taylor; officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Acting Police Director Pedro Medina; officers of the Princeton Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Nicholas Sutter; officers of the Ewing Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police John P. Stemler III; officers of the Burlington Township Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Bruce Painter; and detectives of the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina, with the investigation leading to today’s charges. He also thanked officers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan; detectives of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Angelo Onofri; officers of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff John A. Kemler; and members of the New Jersey State Board of Parole for their assistance in the case, including with today’s coordinated takedown.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Brendan Day and Alexander Ramey of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the FBI’s Greater Trenton Safe Streets Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to enhance the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of individuals involved in gang-related activities, violent crime, and drug distribution in and around the greater Trenton area. 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 charges and allegations against the remaining defendants are merely accusations and those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.