Head of drug trafficking operation at a recreation center sentenced to more than a decade in prison

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One of the leaders of a drug smuggling operation that used a Newark recreation center to help distribute large quantities of narcotics has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti sentenced Wali Duncan in a virtual court appearance on Tuesday, court records show, after pleading guilty in May to conspiring to distribute a kilogram or more. heroin and possession with the intention of distributing heroin. .

As part of the plea agreement, the parties agreed to a 12-year sentence. Duncan is due to visit the Federal Bureau of Prisons at a later date to begin serving his sentence.

Duncan was one of 12 defendants accused of carrying out a drug trafficking operation from February 2018 to July 2019 on the Rotunda Leisure and Wellness Center on Clifton Avenue in Newark.

The criminal charges are the result of a lengthy wiretapping investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA.

Authorities said Duncan, along with Edward Williams, who was described as the other head of the operation, obtained their narcotics supplies from Rahim Jackson and Arthur Hardy, two part-time workers at the facility. recreation who were also indicted for their role in the operation.

According to the criminal complaint, large drug deliveries took place in and around the recreation center. In one case, authorities observed Williams, who was also an employee of the center, receiving plastic bags of medication outside the recreation center and then placing them later in the Duncan’s trunk.

The men “regularly used the recreation center as a place of reception and storage of narcotics”, indicates the criminal complaint. Williams and Duncan then used other people below them to allegedly distribute the drugs throughout Newark, according to the complaint.

Authorities described the two as members of the Bloods street gang’s G-Shine ensemble. Williams has also pleaded guilty for his role and is expected to be sentenced in November.

“That these defendants allegedly used a neighborhood entrance as a place to hide and sell dangerous drugs is almost beyond comprehension,” said US prosecutor Craig Carpenito when the men were charged in 2019. “While the children of the neighborhood came here to play basketball and chess. , they were perhaps only a few feet away from the narcotics and the criminals who sell them.

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Joe Atmonavage can be reached at [email protected].

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