A crackdown on open-air drug markets in Newark and Orange has yielded 27 arrests as well as drugs, cash and weapons including an AK-47 machine gun, law enforcement officials announced during a press conference Thursday at Veterans Courthouse in Newark.
“Operation Buy Walk,” launched Oct. 1, was sparked by residents’ complaints about drug-dealing in Orange and Newark. Personnel from agencies including the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office VIPER Unit, the Newark and Orange police departments and the State Police, assisted in the operation, which involved surveillance and the undercover purchases of drugs, officials said.
Two search warrants were executed Thursday at locations on Fabyan Place and Mahogany Court in Newark and 17 people were arrested today. Other arrests were previously made in Orange. Six suspects remain at large.
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said that while some of those arrested worked together, there was no “overarching conspiracy” linking all of the more than two dozen suspects.
Authorities have seized nearly $2,900 in cash, a 12-gauge shotgun, three handguns -- including a palm-sized Derringer -- along with the machine gun and more than 120 rounds of various types of ammunition. Marijuana, crack and heroin all with a total estimated value of about $4,000 was also recovered.
Speaking before a display of firearms similar to what was seized Thursday, Murray stressed the significance of removing such high-powered weaponry from the street.
“Violence in our city is largely fueled by the drug trade,” she said.
Law enforcement officials also said joint operations such as Buy Walk were a great help to cash-strapped local police departments such as Newark’s.
“I want to thank Prosecutor Murray. In these economic times police departments face today we can’t do the things we used to do alone,” said Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio.
Those arrested include Newark residents Kelly Griffin 25; James McQueen, 34; Shawn Wallace, 30; Chanel Barden, 21; Brayonne Carney, 25; Saqid Green, 44; Jamal Jones, 35; Tony McNair, 47; Hakin McNair, 18; Rajee Stokes, 18; Donald Travis, 31; Wajeehah Andrews, 32; Tony Whitaker, 19; Awad Cureton, 20; and Jocelyn Julien, 20. A juvenile who was not named was also arrested and later released to his mother.
Also among the suspects are Kenneth Broadus, 23, of Irvington, and 47-year-old Effrin Bridges of Montclair.
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