Accused members of the Bloods and Crips street gangs, a police officer and two pawn shop owners were among the 44 people indicted Tuesday on a bevy of charges including racketeering conspiracy, attempted murder and drug and weapons crimes after a 14-month investigation into gang activity in New Jersey, authorities say.
A Monmouth County grand jury handed down the 219-count indictment after several law enforcement agencies looked into gang activity along two dead-end streets in Asbury Park in an effort they dubbed “Operation Dead End,” prosecutors say. Several of those charged in the indictment had been arrested during a large sweep earlier this year.
Prosecutors say that detectives discovered gang members operating out of those two areas worked together to commit crimes ranging from armed robberies and burglaries and drug distribution to coordinating shootings of rival gang members.
Some gang members allegedly tried to distract police by firing in the air or filing false police reports while their comrades committed crimes. They also allegedly enlisted an Asbury Park police officer to spy on detectives and get information investigators had on gang leaders.
Prosecutors say that two of the gangs’ leaders, 26-year-old James Fair and 21-year-old Altyreek Leonard, are among those charged in the indictment. Authorities have accused Fair and Leonard of orchestrating shootings and robberies, staking out drug dealing territory and doling out guns and narcotics to gang members.
The Asbury Park police officer, 46-year-old Keith German, is accused of helping gang members evade police by giving the confidential information. He also allegedly accessed a law enforcement database on one occasion and asked Fair to help him stalk a victim. German was with the department for nearly two decades.
Police say that Fair and other gang members also befriended two pawn shop owners who would fence items the gang members stole from stores and homes in their shops and on eBay.
Other members of the gangs are accused of a laundry list of crimes. The indictment alleges gang members shot at rivals on several occasions. In one shooting, gang members barged into a home and fired at a victim while his family was inside the house.
Others, including several suspects who were 17 at the time, allegedly sold cocaine, heroin, Oxycontin and MDMA. On some occasions, they allegedly robbed their own customers.