Newark police and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Tuesday raided a Hunterdon Street apartment complex, making three arrests and netting three weapons and $1,500 in heroin.
Authorities targeted 225 Hunterdon St. after a 19-year-old man was shot and wounded at the address a few days ago. The operation was a “preemptive strike” intended to gather intelligence regarding what is believed to be a brewing turf war between rival drug dealers, police said.
Officers entered the complex and observed two men inside the courtyard who upon observing police approaching immediately fled into the stairwells with officers in pursuit. One suspect, later identified as 22- year-old Xavier Butler of Newark, reached the second floor landing, where he discarded a package of what was later determined to be $1500 worth of heroin as he continued to flee, police said. .
Officers pursued both suspects to the fourth floor where they observed an elderly woman open the apartment door allowing both suspects to enter the residence with police directly behind them. Inside the apartment police arrested Butler after he attempted to conceal a .45 caliber firearm underneath a mattress.
The second suspect, 26 year-old Dequan Wiggins of Newark, was arrested after he attempted to conceal a 9mm firearm in an infant's crib. A third suspect, 27 year-old Jujuan Alston, also of Newark, was arrested inside the apartment after he was seen sliding a .45 caliber firearm underneath a bed, police said.
Officers managed to arrest the three suspects without injuries to any of the occupants of the apartment, which included two small children who reside in the apartment. Police charged each of the men unlawful possession of a weapon, resisting arrest, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Alston and Wiggins, who both have prior criminal convictions,were also charged under a law prohibiting convicted felons from possessing firearms. Wiggins and Butler were also charged with burglary for entering the apartment without the owner’s permission, and Butler was also charged with three narcotics-related offenses for possession of heroin.
"We are pleased with the results of this operation in that we were able to recover these weapons and remove these dangerous criminals from the community,” Police Director Samuel DeMaio said. “Hopefully these arrests will serve as a positive message to our residents and a deterrent to the criminals. It is a great example of intelligence led policing and a testament to the professionalism of our officers who were able to capture these armed suspects without injury to the public or the suspects themselves."
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