Federal prosecutors on Thursday filed charges against more than two dozen alleged members of a violent heroin operation in Trenton that may be linked to a gang-related shootout that left one dead and 22 injured at a nighttime arts festival in June.
Prosecutors said an ongoing dispute between the group and a rival gang was responsible for a significant amount of recent gun violence in Trenton.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Thursday at a news conference in Trenton that the dispute may have led to the arts festival shooting, the Associated Press reported. On June 17, gunfire erupted during the 24-hour festival at the Roebling Wire Works Building, causing panic and resulting in the death of Tahaij Wells, 32, believed to be one of the gunmen involved.
Authorities arrested 12 of the defendants early Thursday and charged 10 others who already were in custody. One person in a New Jersey state prison was charged in a separate complaint. Four defendants remained at large. Authorities seized five semiautomatic firearms allegedly possessed by defendants in the case.
Participants in the conspiracy obtained large quantities of heroin from David Antonio, whom they called "Papi," prosecutors said. Antonio, 30, of Trenton, and 25 other defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. That charge carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and possible maximum of life.