It happened in a flash: A SWAT team stormed a South Hackensack motel, capturing two armed robbers and three drug dealers from Teaneck and Englewood who've been living there, authorities said.
South Hackensack detectives were preparing to hit two rooms following a series of undercover drug deals when a legitimate 30-year-old customer told them that two other men living in a third room had robbed him, authorities said.
The victim, who lives in Bergenfield, told police that he agreed to meet Malik Lee, 25, of Englewood to buy some pot for $200, Capt. Robert Chinchar said.
Lee showed up for the meeting at another motel on nearby Route 46 with Justin Draper, also 25 of Englewood, the victim said.
Lee already had an extensive criminal record, including arrests for resisting arrest, child endangerment, drug offenses and probation violations.
Draper's rap sheet included an arrest stemming from the videotaped sex assault on a young girl.
Draper was free pending trial for the burglary of a church in Hackensack late last summer when Monday's robbery occurred.
The victim told police that both men got into his vehicle, took the cash and his cellphone at gunpoint, then ran off.
Surveillance video shows the pair fleeing the area. Draper was wearing distinctive black sweatpants with a white square on one knee, along with multi-colored Nikes and a black ski mask, records show.
South Hackensack police had targeted two rooms in the first motel when they learned of the robbery. So they obtained a search warrant for Lee and Draper’s room, as well, and summoned a Bergen County Regional SWAT Team.
The tactical squad hit all three rooms at once, joined by several South Hackensack detectives and officers, shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday.
The investigators found the clothing that Draper had been wearing, along with the ski mask and blue bandana that Lee had wrapped the gun in during the holdup, Chinchar said.
They also seized cocaine, pot, packaging, scales and a long-barrel BB gun, he said.
All five defendants reportedly had been evicted from their homes due to COVID-19 and were relocated to the motel by the county.
Lee and Draper were both charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault, theft and drug and weapons possession and sent to the Bergen County Jail to await first appearances in Central Judicial Processing Court in Hackensack.
Also arrested were:
Desmond Cunningham, 40, of Englewood, who was sent to the Bergen County Jail on charges of possession of marijuana and paraphernalia – including hundreds of zip-locking bags, along with scales and packaging equipment – as well as possession of pot with the intent to sell it;
John Goins, 52, of Teaneck, a career criminal who also was sent to the Bergen County Jail on charges of having a half-ounce of cocaine for sale;
Renee McWilliams, 57, also of Teaneck, who was charged with the same counts as Goins, her husband, before being turned over to Englewood police on a warrant.
Like his fellow ex-cons, Goins has spent a significant amount of time behind bars.
In one of several incidents reported over three decades, authorities charged Goins with fighting with police who caught him with cocaine.
Chinchar thanked the SWAT team, including its commander, Lt. Juan Arroyave, and squad leader Mike Pappas.
The captain also acknowledged “the hard work” of the department’s detectives for “removing these dangerous criminals from the street, three for drug dealing, two for armed robbery.”
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