TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced that 18 men were indicted by a state grand jury for allegedly operating a major weapons trafficking ring based in Newark that was illegally selling numerous guns, including high-powered assault rifles.
The primary target of the investigation faces many counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. The indictment, which was handed up late yesterday afternoon, is the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Weapons Trafficking North Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
The investigation focused on Louis Boggs, 31, of Newark. Boggs and his associates used his residence in the first block of 3rd Avenue and a residence in the 700 block of South 15th Street as bases of operation where they allegedly planned their crimes, met prior to gun sales and conducted some sales.
From August to December 2013, State Police detectives allegedly orchestrated 22 controlled purchases of guns from members of the ring. In these transactions, Boggs and his associates allegedly sold 11 illegal assault weapons – eight of which were equipped with illegal large-capacity magazines – as well as a rifle and 12 handguns, some with illegal hollow-point bullets.
Two of the handguns were stolen, and a third, which had a defaced serial number, was linked by ballistic testing to a murder in Newark.
Boggs allegedly was directly involved in most of the sales, and Joseph Maisonet, 25, a key associate, allegedly participated in about half of them. They face numerous counts of second-degree conspiracy and second-degree unlawful possession of an assault weapon or handgun.
They are among eight defendants charged with second-degree possession of a weapon as a convicted felon, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years without parole.
All defendants except one are charged with one or more counts of second-degree conspiracy and various second-, third- and fourth-degree weapons offenses.
Because Boggs has a prior conviction for robbery, which falls under the No Early Release Act, he is subject to first-degree gun possession charges. He faces 18 counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a weapon – one for each gun he allegedly sold – each carrying a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.
McKenny Dixon, 46, who has a prior aggravated assault conviction, faces three counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. He allegedly conspired in sales of three assault firearms.
The State Police executed search warrants at the two residences listed above on Dec. 3, 2013. Most of the defendants were arrested on that day or soon after. The detectives seized a revolver in Boggs’ home, as well as numerous rounds of ammunition.
“We allege that Boggs and his associates always had illegal guns for sale, and their wares included assault weapons comparable to those used in the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and Aurora, Colorado,” said Hoffman. “They allegedly were selling these deadly weapons to people who – like many of them – have criminal records and cannot legally purchase guns. Putting such guns in the hands of career criminals is a formula for murder and mayhem.”
“As this case demonstrates, we are aggressively targeting the gun traffickers responsible for the proliferation of lethal firepower on our streets,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work closely with the State Police and utilize every resource available to protect the people of New Jersey by eliminating these black-market sales of illicit firearms.”
“The importance of keeping illegal weapons out of the hands of those who seek to circumvent the system cannot be overstated,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Illicit trafficking networks help fuel the violence that plagues communities nationwide. We will continue to work with our partnering agencies to aggressively target this black-market trade.”
Deputy Attorney General Amy Sieminski presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart, Deputy Bureau Chief, and Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, Bureau Chief. The investigation was conducted for the New Jersey State Police by Detective Sgt. Michael Gregory and the Weapons Trafficking North Unit, under the supervision of Lt. James Hollar.
The following is a full list of the individuals charged in the indictment. All of the defendants, with the exception of Andrew Lopez, are charged with one or more counts of second-degree conspiracy and various second-, third- and fourth-degree weapons offenses. Andrew Lopez is charged with fourth-degree conspiracy to unlawfully dispose of a weapon. Eight defendants are charged with possession of a weapon as a convicted felon, as indicated with an asterisk.
*Tyheed Brison, 34, of Elizabeth. *Louis Boggs, 31, of Newark. *Joseph Maisonet, 25, of Newark. Alejandro Fawcette, 33, of Newark. Nathan Nieves, 24, of Newark. Raheem Brison, 22, of Newark. Andrew Lopez, 21, of Newark. *Lee McLendon Jr., 35, of Newark. *Reginald Dawsey, 25, of Newark. *McKenny Dixon, 46, of Newark. Marquise Clyburn, 22, of Newark. Justin Caban, 24, of Saylorsburg, Pa. *Ardnas Lopez, 27, of Newark. Mark Jones, 47, of Newark. *Rujohn Hutchins, 24, of Irvington. Alquan McLendon, 31, of Wilkes Barre, Pa. Antwon Graham, 31, of Newark. Muhammad Abdul Salaam, 37, of Irvington.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
The second-degree charge of possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years without parole, and the other second-degree weapons charges carry a mandatory minimum term of parole ineligibility of one-half of the sentence imposed or 3 ½ years, whichever is greater.
Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Essex County, where the defendants will be arraigned in court at a later date.