Gang Awareness: If you think it can’t happen to you you’re wrong

 Every year at the NJSACC Conference we host a workshop :

“Gang Awareness: If  you think it can’t happen to you You’re Wrong” 
NJSACC is committed to building awareness in all communities.
Here’s the proof-no matter where your program is located, gangs are everywhere.

Quiet Cranford abuzz over a neighbor’s arrest
Resident called five-star general in heroin operation run by Bloods gang
Friday, December 07, 2007
BY BRAD PARKS
Star Ledger
 On a quiet Cranford Street lined with inflatable Santas, well- trimmed shrubs and other markers of suburban comfort, the house on the corner of Dietz Street and Lud low Avenue didn’t stand out too much.The owners, a couple with young children, were quiet and kept to themselves. The man commuted to work each day, just like the other dads in the neighborhood. On weekends, folks would see him washing his car.The only thing that made 201 Dietz St. just slightly unusual — other than being the largest and nicest house on the block — were the interior walls visible from the street. Neighbors could see them at night, illuminated by a large chandelier in the foyer.They were painted a deep and penetrating red.On a quiet Cranford Street lined with inflatable Santas, well- trimmed shrubs and other markers of suburban comfort, the house on the corner of Dietz Street and Lud low Avenue didn’t stand out too much.The owners, a couple with young children, were quiet and kept to themselves. The man commuted to work each day, just like the other dads in the neighborhood. On weekends, folks would see him washing his car.The only thing that made 201 Dietz St. just slightly unusual — other than being the largest and nicest house on the block — were the interior walls visible from the street. Neighbors could see them at night, illuminated by a large chandelier in the foyer.They were painted a deep and penetrating red.”I just thought they liked the color red,” said Bob Cosenza, a neighbor who has been living on the street for close to 30 years. “They seemed like normal people.”

On a quiet Cranford Street lined with inflatable Santas, well- trimmed shrubs and other markers of suburban comfort, the house on the corner of Dietz Street and Lud low Avenue didn’t stand out too much.The owners, a couple with young children, were quiet and kept to themselves. The man commuted to work each day, just like the other dads in the neighborhood. On weekends, folks would see him washing his car.The only thing that made 201 Dietz St. just slightly unusual — other than being the largest and nicest house on the block — were the interior walls visible from the street. Neighbors could see them at night, illuminated by a large chandelier in the foyer.They were painted a deep and penetrating red.”I just thought they liked the color red,” said Bob Cosenza, a neighbor who has been living on the street for close to 30 years. “They seemed like normal people.”Or at least they did until early Wednesday morning, when law enforcement agents raided the house, carried out $50,000 in cash and a semiautomatic handgun and arrested its owner, Abdullah Meyers.

A three-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the IRS and the State Police fingered Meyers as the top lieutenant in a $2 million-a-month heroin ring that operated in Newark and the sur rounding area. Authorities described Meyers as a five-star general in the Bloods gang.

And for the past two years, he had been living with his red walls — the color of the Bloods street gang — amidst accountants, firemen and retirees on Dietz Street.

“You’d never think a five-star general would be living in Cran ford,” said Doug Collier, a spokesman for the Newark field office of the Drug Enforcement Agency. “But the problem of gangs and drugs is one that crosses all boundaries.”

Meyers and the alleged leader of the ring, Rasheem Small, have been charged with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and conspiracy to conceal drug proceeds. Meyers also ordered home invasions and shootings of rival drug dealers, according to a confidential informant cited in the complaint, who allegedly witnessed those orders carried out.

Meyers and Small face life in prison if convicted. The house on Dietz Street, allegedly bought with the proceeds of a vigorous drug and money-laundering operation, will likely be seized by the U.S. At torney’s Office.

A man who answered the door of the house yesterday said no one there wanted to comment on the allegations. But the neighbors were buzzing.

“A drug dealer? I can’t believe it,” said Connie Gall, who spends the day watching her grandchildren just up the street. “I walked the kids past there in their strollers all the time when they were infants. It’s a very peaceful neighborhood.”

Dietz Street was first developed in the 1950s and retains a post- World War II feel even now that some of the original houses have been torn down and replaced with larger versions. The street is narrow, with a 25 mph speed limit and no sidewalks. The cars motoring past on the Garden State Parkway a few blocks away provide only the faintest background noise.

There are a smattering of Mercedes and Audis in the driveways, but most of the cars are more prac tical: Fords, Nissans and Toyotas. The yards are neat — there seems to be a preference for rhododen drons — and several of the houses proudly fly American flags.

Meyers’ house is one of the tear- downs. It was rebuilt about five years ago with a three-car garage, brick façade and tan siding. The landscaping is tasteful — ornamen tal grasses, sculpted shrubbery, rock borders — and meticulous.

“They did a lovely job keeping the house,” Gall said. “The lawn was always freshly mowed.”

Neighbors said they often saw Meyers with expensive cars — according to the criminal complaint against him, his fleet included a $178,000 Lamborghini and a Mercedes-Benz SUV — but that didn’t attract excess attention in a well-to-do suburb.

“I just assumed he had a very good job,” Cosenza said. “You’d see the fancy cars, but everyone has fancy cars these days. I thought maybe he was just a car collector.”

Meyers didn’t interact with his neighbors much. None of the six neighbors interviewed yesterday reported having an extended conversation him. The only noise coming from the house was when one of the kids had a birthday party. And even those were quiet, neighbors said.

None of the neighbors had an inkling the man living on their street was a man authorities said had millions of dollars of drug money sitting in various bank accounts.

“When you think about it, it makes sense,” said Tony LaFer rara, who has lived on Ludlow Street for 50 years. “If you’ve got all that money, you’re not going to live in Newark are you? This neighborhood was probably perfect for him.”

 

 

 

 

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