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Crime & Safety State News

Gang Leader Charged with Possession of Semi-Automatic Weapon

NEWARK, N.J. – A high-ranking member of a set of the Bloods street gang will make his initial court appearance today on charges he possessed a weapon as a convicted felon, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Farod Baldwin, 37, of Newark, was arrested July 7, 2020, at the Betty Shabazz Village Housing Complex. He is charged by complaint with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon and is scheduled to appear by videoconference later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Law enforcement officers were conducting surveillance in Newark when they observed Baldwin park a Jeep Grand Cherokee near an apartment. He removed a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol from the Jeep. Officers observed Baldwin tuck the firearm into his pants before entering the front door of an apartment. Law enforcement officers lawfully searched the apartment and recovered the firearm. Baldwin attempted to flee from the apartment but was apprehended. A further search of the apartment resulted in the seizure of approximately 20 jugs of suspected cocaine base, a bullet-proof vest, two high-capacity magazines, and various ammunition, including rifle ammunition.

Baldwin is allegedly a high-ranking member of a set of the national Bloods street gang known as Sex Money Murder (SMM). Members of SMM have been engaging in violent disputes with other gangs, have trafficked narcotics, and have committed various firearms offenses.  Several recent violent crimes, including shootings and homicides, in Newark and elsewhere, are believed to be related to a dispute between SMM and rival gangs.

The firearms offense carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Director Anthony F. Ambrose; the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II; and special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charge.

This investigation is part of the Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) in Newark. The Newark VCI was formed in August 2017 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the City of Newark’s Department of Public Safety for the sole purpose of combatting violent crime in and around the Newark. As part of this partnership, federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate and pool resources to prosecute violent offenders who endanger the safety of the community. The VCI includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals, the Newark Department of Public Safety, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, New Jersey State Parole Board, New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center, and New Jersey Department of Corrections.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary E. Toscano, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division in Newark, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Repole of the OCDETF Unit of the Criminal Division.

The charge and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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