UPDATE: An ex-con who was captured by Paterson detectives became the latest member of the city’s notorious “230 Boys” gang to land in federal prison for slinging dope tied to dozens of overdose deaths.
Cequan “Cee Cee” Wharton, 27, was sentenced to plea-bargained term of five years and three months, nearly all of which he must serve because there’s no parole in the federal prison system, for selling deadly fentanyl.
He joins several other members of the violent street gang who were sent federal penitentiaries following an all-out law enforcement offensive on the streets of the Silk City and beyond.
Wharton was among 17 reputed "230 Boys" members charged in a coordinated heroin, fentanyl and cocaine trafficking case assembled in the summer of 2019 by a strike force comprised of agents from the DEA, ATF and state, county and local law enforcement.
The gang took its name from a central location -- a liquor store at 230 Rosa Parks Boulevard -- and operated primarily along Godwin Avenue between Rosa Parks and East 18th Street and in and around the 12th Avenue basketball courts.
"230 Boys" members and associates, all Paterson residents, sold a mix of heroin and fentanyl, a potent, synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and, as a result, potentially fatal.
Their product was tied to more than 60 fatal overdoses in New Jersey in less than a year, federal authorities said.
Members have also been involved in ongoing feuds with other local gangs, they said.
One "230 Boys" member, Keith Brinkley, was captured in Georgia at the end of October 2019 and brought to New Jersey to face both local and federal charges after shooting a Belleville man in Paterson before fleeing south, authorities said.
A reputed leader of the gang, Shakeem “230 Starter” Ricks – who'd served time for a shooting that took the life of a popular 14-year-old city girl -- was shot and killed early last year.
City detectives said they’d seen Wharton – a former varsity football player at Paterson Eastside High School – selling drugs on Rosa Parks Boulevard before driving off in a mini-van with an associate.
After they pulled the van over, Wharton and his passenger bolted.
Wharton dashed through several Lake Street backyards before emerging onto Summer Street, where detectives grabbed him.
Rather than go to trial, Wharton took a deal from the government.
He pleaded guilty to having, selling and conspiring to sell heroin, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachel A. Honig said.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti sentenced Wharton to three years of supervised release during a video-conferenced hearing in Newark.
The drug trafficking case was assembled by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), whose mission, Honig 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.”
She credited special agents and task force officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New Jersey State Police, the Passaic County sheriff’s and prosecutor’s offices and Paterson police for their roles in the takedown.
Honig also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bergen County Sheriff's Office and the Belleville and Livingston police departments for their assistance on the case, being handled for the government by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francesca Liquori, of the OCDETF/Narcotics Unit.
ALSO SEE: GOTCHA! An army of local, state and federal law enforcers swept through Passaic County (NJ), scooping up 18 violent fugitives wanted for a host of crimes that include attempted murder, armed robbery, drug dealing and weapons offenses.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.