ATLANTIC CITY — Thirteen people have been arrested and six others are being sought in an alleged Atlantic City drug gang whose founder fashions himself after a famous rapper.
Police also seized four handguns and more than three ounces of cocaine.
Blockstarz was formed in summer 2011, when several associates of the Dirty Blok street gang were run out of Stanley Holmes Village, Lt. James Sarkos said. Founding member Haneef Molley, 24, goes by the street name “Weezy” due to his affinity for — and resemblance to — rapper Lil’ Wayne.
The gang allegedly controlled the beach block of Tennessee, Ocean and North Carolina avenues, and St. James Place, near the John Brooks Recovery Center and several rooming houses.
“Gang members exploit the fact that, between the rooming houses and (drug rehabilitation center), there is a limitless supply of drug users in the area,” Sarkos said.
After receiving numerous complaints from residents and businesses, he said, the Atlantic City’s Special Investigations Section made it a top priority, with Detectives Paul Petinga and Mike Ruzzo leading the probe. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Gangs, Guns and Narcotics Unit and the Atlantic City Task Force assisted with the investigation.
Molley and four others alleged to be members of the gang are charged with first-degree gang criminality, which will be prosecuted under the state Attorney General’s Office through the Task Force. First-degree charges carry possible 10- to 20-year prison terms.
Molley has been arrested, but the other four facing the higher charge are being sought. They are: Hakim Clark, 23; Demica Waller, 41; and Sharod Taylor, 25, all of Atlantic City; and Mandella Jones, 23, of East Orange.
Those arrested included a 16-year-old girl from Orlando, Fla., who charges indicate was in possession of one of the guns with hollow-point bullets, along with cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. She is also charged with tampering with evidence.
Also allegedly in possession of guns were Steven Brindis, 21, and Kolby McKinley, 26, both of Atlantic City, and Anthony Hamlett, 34, of Camden.
Blockstarz has aligned itself with a set of the Bloods street gang called the Fruit Town Brims, with several of those members sent from Camden and Newark to assist in controlling the Blockstarz’s territory, Sarkos said. Some are now full members of the Bloods, coining the term “BlockstarBrim.”
Most of those charged are accused of drug possession and conspiracy.
Others arrested were: Jeffrey Lee, 32; Tracey Piliero, 30; Dominic Harris, 21; Michael Black, 47; John Gaskins, 40, and Cherria Eichelberger, 26, all of Atlantic City; Thomas Plummer, 35, of Philadelphia; and Benjamin Gass, 23, of Lindenwold.
In addition to the four sought on the gang charge, wanted are: Janessa Hoagland, 24, of Atlantic City, and Trayvon Eddington, 18, of Millville.
Anyone with information about this case or those being sought is asked to call police at 609-347-5858 or Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 . Information may be texted anonymously to tip411 (847411) beginning the text with ACPD.
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