A convicted drug runner from Newark must spend all of a plea-bargained 10 years in federal prison for his role in trafficking more than a kilo of heroin and a half-pound of crack.
Maurice "Ree" McPhatter, 47, took the deal from the government rather than risk drug conspiracy convictions at a trial.
Because there’s no parole in the federal prison system, he must serve the entire sentence imposed Friday by U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark
McPhatter was among several members of a drug ring that operated in and around Newark who were taken down in 2017 by special agents and officers with the DEA’s High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Group 1, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
The ringleader, Ahmad “OC” Johnson, 38, also took a plea and was sentenced in April 2019 to 15 years in federal prison for drug conspiracy.
Ring members Willie “Rock” McPhatter, Keith Henderson and Sacha Negron also pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.
A six defendant, Cory “Big C” Canzater, took his chances with a trial, was convicted of drug conspiracy and distribution, among other counts, and is awaiting sentencing by McNulty, Carpenito said.
Investigators used wiretaps, undercover buys and confidential informants, among other means to smash the ring, he said.
After buying and packaging large amounts of heroin and crack for sale, Johnson found users to “test” the drugs “to evaluate the quality, potency, and danger for broader distribution,” Carpenito said.
Then he used Maurice McPhatter and other runners to sell the drugs to other distributors, as well as users.
In addition to the prison term, cNulty sentenced Maurice McPhatter to five years of supervised release.
HIDTA members investigated the case under the auspices of the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which is headquartered in Washington, DC but operates nationwide.
The task force’s principal mission, Carpenito said, is to “identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.”
It’s housed at the DEA’s New York office and includes agents and officers of the DEA, ATF, Secret Service, IRS, U.S. Marshals Service, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard, NYPD, New York State Police, New York National Guard, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and local police departments.
Handling the case for the government are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia Astorga and Ari B. Fontecchio of Carpenito’s Newark office.
Click here to follow Daily Voice Essex and receive free news updates.