A 39-year-old Belleville man, the alleged long-time leader of the Grape Street Crips, was charged last week in connection with four murders, three attempted murders, and numerous other crimes as part of a racketeering conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reported.
Corey Hamlet (a/k/a “C-Blaze,” “Blaze,” “Blizzie” and “Castor Troy”) was to appear last Thursday before Judge James B. Clark III in Newark Federal Court on an indictment alleging RICO conspiracy, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, aiding and abetting the use of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence, witness tampering, robbery, extortion, and drug trafficking.
Also scheduled to appear were three Newark men — Sean L. Scott Sr., 45; Keon Bethea, 33; and Jamil Harrison, 32 – who were arrested that same day on charges involving distribution of heroin and crack cocaine.
“Nine months ago, we announced the arrests of more than 70 members – including the No. 2 and No. 3 highest-ranking members – of the Grape Street Crips, a violent street gang we alleged controls much of the heroin trade in northern New Jersey,” Fishman said. “Today, we are announcing charges against Corey Hamlet, the leader of that organization, in an indictment that spells out his alleged role in at least four homicides and three attempted homicides in furtherance of his control of this drug trafficking organization.”
Hamlet’s indictment followed the coordinated takedown in May 2015 of 50 alleged members and associates of the Grape Street Crips, who were charged with drug-trafficking, physical assaults and witness intimidation.
All the arrests were the result of a long-running FBI and DEA investigation, in conjunction with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Newark Police Department and Essex County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Narcotics.
Authorities said Hamlet has allegedly served as leader of the New Jersey Grape Street Crips — a local set of a nationwide street gang founded in Los Angeles — even while serving sentences or being detained in federal or state correctional facilities.
A statement from Fishman’s office noted: “ . . . the gang’s rules provide that members must retaliate against individuals who cooperate with law enforcement. Gang members routinely engage in acts of intimidation and violence against witnesses, individuals who are believed to be cooperating with law enforcement, and law enforcement officers themselves. As the gang’s leader, Hamlet allegedly participated in and authorized acts of violence against rivals, suspected cooperating witnesses, and even fellow gang members who were perceived as being disloyal.”
On each of the charges of RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, and using firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence, Hamlet faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
“The FBI’s mission at the beginning of this investigation was to significantly disrupt the Grape Street Crips criminal enterprise operating in Newark,” stated Andrew Campi, FBI-Newark Acting Special Agent in Charge.
“The federal indictment and arrest of its leader, Corey Hamlet, has brought us closer to our ultimate goal of dismantling one of the most violent street gangs in the city. This investigation is a tremendous example of the positive impact law enforcement has on the community and when federal, county, and local authorities join together with a common purpose.”