According to reports from NJ.com, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman believes “The Grape Street Crips control much of the heroin trade in northern New Jersey” and have maintained that control “through violence and intimidation, sometimes via social media.” On Thursday, as a part of law enforcement mission to eradicate Grape Street, the set’s alleged leader and kingpin, Corey “Blaze” Hamlet, was arrested, along with three others, on various charges.
This arrest follows a huge FBI sting in May, when 50 Grape Street Crips (an offshoot of the Los Angeles set) were popped, including the alleged second and third-in-command Kwasi “Welchs” Mack and Corey “C-Murder” Batts, on charges related to drug trafficking and violence. Hamlet (also known on the street as “Blizzie” and “Castor Troy”) faces RICO conspiracy charges, including counts of violent crimes in aid of racketeering, aiding the use of firearms in crimes of violence, witness tampering, robbery, extortion and drug trafficking. He has been linked to four murders, three attempted murders and “a host of other criminal acts.” It is being reported that he even called shots while down on a six-year prison sentence through 2012. NJ.com elaborates on the charges:
The bulk of Hamlet’s charges seem to stem from his beef with an individual known as “Victim One.” According to the Department of Justice report, Hamlet attempted to extort Victim One, and went on a rampage after Victim One refused to pay up. In May 2013, Hamlet allegedly sent the aforementioned Batts with Tony Phillips to murder another Grape Street member (referred to as “Victim Two”) because he had “grown too close to Victim One.”
In August of that year, Hamlet allegedly enlisted Batts to murder Victim One. That was before Hamlet met with Victim One at the mall at Short Hills Mall. The meet was arranged by Anwar West (“Victim Five”), another Grape Street member, who was trying to broker a truce between Hamlet and Victim One. After the meet, Hamlet posted a report from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, outing Victim One as a snitch. Three days later, (allegedly on Hamlet’s orders) Batts and other Grape Street members shot and nearly killed Victim One and Victim Four, a passenger in Victim One’s car. After that, West was lured into a Jeep Cherokee, by Rashan Washington, then shot in the head and killed, by Aaron Terrell. This was his punishment for trying to make peace with Victim One.
In November 2013, Hamlet allegedly told an associate that “Victim Six,” a relative of Victim One, had to go. Hamlet and a fellow conspirator pulled up on a car driven by Victim Six and aimed a gun in March 2014. While Victim Six was able to pull off and evade that threat, the fellow conspirator caught up to him on the road, and a car chase ensued. Victim Six crashed his car into other vehicles, as he tried to escape. The conspirator fired on the car, hitting Victim Six and killing “Victim Seven,” a passenger in the car. Also killed in that transaction was “Victim Eight,” who sat in one of the crashed-into cars and was shot in the head.
Hamlet faces life in prison. According to the DOJ:
On each of the charges of RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute crack-cocaine, and using firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence, Hamlet faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. The first count of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a mandatory minimum term of 10 years, while the second such count carries a mandatory minimum term of 25 years, which must be imposed consecutively to the first count. On the six counts of violent crimes in aid of racketeering, Hamlet faces terms of imprisonment ranging from three to 20 years.
The three others arrested with Hamlet were Sean “Ali Rock” Scott, Keon “Fat Boy” Bethea (pictured above) and Jamil “L-Mel” Harrison. Bethea and Harrison have been charged with one count of cocaine distribution and face a mandatory minimum of five years to a maximum of 40 years in prison and a potential $5 million fine (due to his criminal record, Harrison may face more). Scott, who was charged with one count of heroin distribution, faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars and a maximum fine of $1 million.