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Multi-County Probe Busts Violent Gang Drug Network

Morristown shooting began seven-month investigation into drug, gang and weapons activity.

Essex County officers were among 70 from four counties who arrested 24 people Friday morning in a drug, gang and weapons sweep that began with an investigation into an attempted murder in Morristown last fall.

Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi considered the bust "the largest in Morris County history."

Bianchi detailed the police action at a press conference Saturday at the Morris County administration building surrounded by representatives of the crime task force that worked on the case, including prosecutor’s offices from Warren, Essex and Union counties, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Morris County Park Police, and 14 municipalities, including 11 from Morris County.

The investigation began following an Oct. 8, 2011 shooting on Abbett Avenue in Morristown that sent two people to the hospital, Bianchi said.

A special task force employed intelligent crime analysis and targeted one individual allegedly involved in that 2011 attempted murder, which led to a larger investigation into an extensive gang, gun and drug operation allegedly headed by Rashan “Lil Hick” Caldwell  and  Jamion “Spit” Fenner, Bianchi said. He said they based the operation in Morris county for a time, but had shifted it to Union County.

The gang operated in Morris, Essex, Warren and Union counties, he said.

The investigation lasted seven months, and resulted in the seizure of more than $100,000 in drugs, weapons, vehicles and drug processing and distributing equipment. Caldwell and Fenner are alleged to be affiliated with the Bloods street gang, Bianchi said.

Seized were:

  • Two .45-caliber semi-automatic handguns
  • One 9mm semi-automatic handgun
  • More than 2,000 packages of heroin ready for street distribution
  • Approximately 1 ounce of heroin not yet packaged for distribution
  • More than 7 ounces of cocaine
  • $3,400 in cash
  • A significant amount of handgun ammunition
  • Two presses used at a drug processing facility
  • Heroin brand name stamps
  • Various paraphernalia used in a drug distribution
  • Several vehicles

“This action dismantled a violent criminal group, which was operating throughout Morris County as well as surrounding counties,” Bianchi said.

It was clear, based on the level of organization uncovered, he said, that the operation had been in business for some time.

Bianchi said those charged were being held at the Morris County jail. More arrests were pending Saturday, he said.

Charged were:

Rashan Caldwell, 32, Linden: two counts of attempted murder; two counts of aggravated assault; two counts of bodily injury; and unlawful possession of a handgun; and possession of a handgun to use unlawfully against another person; conspiracy to transport, sell, dispose of a firearm; possession of a firearm with aggravated assault; failure to appear; conspiracy with another for witness tampering; and 18 separate drug possession or distribution charges, some of which included multiple incidents, including a charge of conspiracy to organize, supervise, finance, manage as a leader of a narcotics trafficking network. He is being held on $1 million bail.

Jamion Fenner, 32, of Linden: conspiracy to organize, supervise, finance, manage as a leader of a narcotics trafficking network; 15 separate charges to distribute  or possess narcotics, some with multiple incidents; and a charge to conspire to transport, ship, sell or dispose of a firearm. Fenner is being held on $1 million bail.

George G. Barnhill, 49, of Newark: Nine charges of conspiracy to possess or distribute cocaine or heroin, including multiple incidents. He is being held on $175,000 bail.

Helen “Suzy” Gaskins, 38, Washington (Warren): 15 counts of conspiracy to possess or distribute heroin or cocaine, some with multiple incidents. Bail:  $225,000.

Jazmene Williams, 25, Elizabeth: Eight counts of conspiracy to possess or distribute cocaine, heroin or Percocet. Bail: $45,000.

Rayvon Caldwell, 21, Washington: 10 counts of conspiracy to possess or distribute cocaine or heroin; one charge of possession drug paraphernalia. Bail: $200,000.

Jackie Hartrum, 19, Washington: 10 counts of conspiracy to possess or possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine or Xanax; one charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail: $25,000.

Rashida Truitt, 26, Elizabeth: Six counts of possession of cocaine and Percocet with intent to distribute; one count  of conspiracy to transport, sell, ship, transport a firearm. Bail: $45,000.

Calvin Cousin, 18, Washington: Seven counts of conspiracy to possess cocaine or heroin with intent to distribute; one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail: $20,000.

Akmal Barnhill, 34, Newark: Five counts  of conspiracy to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Bail: $175,000.

Megan Ranallo, 20, Washington: Five counts of conspiracy to possess or with intent to distribute cocaine or Xanax. Summons.

Sammie E. McGruder, 19, Washington: Four counts of conspiracy to possess or posses with intent to distribute cocaine or heroin. Summons.

Jesse R. Zeigler, 20, Washington: Four counts of conspiracy to possess or possess to distribute cocaine or heroin. Bail: $35,000.

Alfred R. Noce, 29, Washington: Four counts of conspiracy to possess or possess with intent to distribute cocaine or Xanax. Bail: $35,000.

Ashley Antoine, 24, Victory Gardens: Seven counts of conspiracy to possess or possess with intent to sell cocaine, heroin or Hydrocodone. Bail: $45,000.

Phillip Barksdale, 25, Linden: One count of maintaining a drug production facility; one count possession of a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun while committing certain crimes; one count possession of a .45-caliber Springfield Arms handgun while committing certain crimes; seven counts of conspiracy to possess or possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine or Percocet. Bail: $350,000.

Jerry Merino, 30 Elizabeth: Three counts to possess or possess with intent to distribute Hydrocodone. Bail: $35,000.

Nathanial Scott: 20, Bangor, Pa.: Three counts of conspiracy to possess or possess with intent to distribute heroin. Held on no bail at Hunterdon County jail.

William M. Kanski, 24, Mount Olive: Three counts of conspiracy to possess or possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Bail: $35,000.

Doria Caldwell, 19, Washington: Two counts ot conspiracy to possess or possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Bail: $10,000.

Stacy Caldwell, 48, Washington: Six counts of conspiracy to possess or possess with intent to distribute cocaine or heroin. Bail: $20,000.

Alexandra B. Hann, 25, Oxford: One count conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Summons.

Zacharie S. Todd, 22, Washington: One count  conspiracy to posess heroin. Bail: $10,000.

Jon Woody, no information available: Four counts of possession or possession with intent to distribute cocaine or heroin. Bail: $45,000.

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