NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) announced today that 15 alleged gang members and associates are being charged with racketeering for engaging in a turf war that claimed the life of an innocent man last May.
All 15 were officially charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, the first time the MCPO has ever issued such a charge.
"During the investigation, it was determined that the continuing conduct of the defendants amounted to a racketeering conspiracy," read a statement from the prosecutor's office this afternoon.
City officials issued an ominous early-morning warning to community members for the second consecutive day, alluding to a "planned police event" involving multiple police agencies.
Of the fifteen charged with racketeering, three were already jailed on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the shooting death of Richard Chang, a 40-year-old contractor killed in his condominium by a stray bullet during a nearby shoot-out.
Those charged last November include two 21-year-old city residents, Nadrell McMillan and Quaadir Hagood, and Zaire Franklin, a 20-year-old Piscataway resident. All three remain in custody in lieu of bail.
Now twelve others face the charge of conspiring to commit murder.
"The defendants are being held on bails ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million," read the MCPO statement.
The defendants were identified during the investigation as members of three different sub-groups of the Bloods gang, a notoriously ruthless street gang that has operations and sub-divisions across the entire country.
As we reported earlier this month, the most recent figures from the State Police showed that New Brunswick had 392 gang members living in the city, in thirteen different gangs.
According to the prosecutor's office, the fifteen charged today regularly threatened their rivals in an on-going turf war where New Brunswick's streets served as the battleground.
The MCPO statement referred to "numerous instances" where the warring groups "threatened their adversaries and fired weapons at each other on city streets."
Officers of a task force led by the MCPO and the New Brunswick Police Department began arresting the alleged gang members and affiliates at their homes at 5 a.m. this morning.
Among the New Brunswick residents arrested and charged today are Chad Butler, 22; Tereak Butler, 18; Maurice Fields, 22 (turns 23 on Saturday); Sidney Williams, 23; Jamil Anthony, 24; Jashire Reid, 20; and Darnell Ricketts, Jr., 21.
Others with the same charges from other communities are Devin Gardner, 22, of Piscataway; Dylan Freer, 27, of North Brunswick; Pedro Vickers, 24, of Edison; Taladeen Ross, 28, of Sayreville; and Jamir Hill, 20, of Camden.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan said police spent hundreds of hours on the investigation, which involved thirteen different law enforcement agencies.
"Since the moment police were alerted to the shooting, members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office and the New Brunswick Police Department have worked tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice," Kaplan said.
The investigation is still active, and anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator Temple of the MCPO at (732) 745-3373 or Detective Martinez of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5200.