ELIZABETH—Authorities are asking for the public’s assistance in capturing a notorious member of the Bloods street gang who was operating an established drug ring in Elizabeth, said Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.
Luqman Abdullah, 27, rose to prominence in this area when he participated in the shooting of a rival drug dealer in the trunk of his car, assisted by three other men, including twin brothers Naim and Hamid Holloway, said Romankow.
All four were convicted for their roles in the shooting. Following this event, Abdullah gained a bloody stranglehold on the cocaine trade in that area of Elizabeth and later expanded into portions of Newark, according to authorities. Anyone who sold cocaine on Abdullah’s turf had to purchase it from him or face violent retaliation, Romankow said.
Abdullah’s reputation for violence was further solidified by a 2006 conviction for possession of a machine gun, along with a quantity of cocaine, following his arrest in an apartment in Newark. His co-defendant in that case, Saud Goosby, was later gunned down on the streets of Newark, said Romankow.
Members of the Union County Narcotics Strike Force began investigating a drug operation last November and through a variety of information gathering techniques were able to successfully map out the group, headed by Abdullah, Romankow said.
Dubbed Operation Red Zone, investigators raided several locations in April 2009 including an apartment on Chancellor Avenue in Newark that held “nothing but drugs, guns and the equipment necessary to cut and process cocaine,” said Romankow.
According to the investigation, the ring operated in Essex and Union counties. A conservative estimate is that the group put at least two kilos of cocaine on the streets every week with a street value of $350,000 per kilo, authorities said. During those raids, authorities arrested 15 people, recovered more than three kilos of cocaine, $80,577 in cash and several guns including an AK-47 assault rifle.
On April 23, members of law enforcement attempted to arrest Abdullah in the parking lot of a mall in Edison. Abdullah, a former Elizabeth high school track star and college football player, led the police on a foot chase through the mall parking lot, across six-lanes of traffic and into a large apartment complex, where he disappeared in the night amidst the dozens of apartment buildings, authorities said.
Immediately after his escape, law enforcement officers pursued Abdullah to North Carolina. Authorities said he has family members there and believe he went there immediately after his escape, but no leads materialized. Various witnesses and informants reported seeing Abdullah in the Newark area, authorities said. He even reportedly sat in the third row of the Hot 97 Summer Jam concert attended by 50,000 people at Giants Stadium in June.
Abdullah’s past criminal history is an extensive one, with 15 prior arrests and seven felony convictions for burglary, resisting arrest, obstruction, manufacturing/distribution of controlled dangerous substances, possession of an assault firearm and aggravated assault. He has also been previously charged with both kidnapping and attempted murder. His prior history of resisting arrest, possession of firearms, and his ability to escape the clutches of the arresting officers on April 23, make him a particularly difficult individual to arrest, said Romankow. Abdullah is believed to be armed and highly dangerous, officials said.
Abdullah, who remains at large, is charged with racketeering, maintaining a narcotics production facility and numerous drug and weapon offenses.
The Union County Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for anyone with information that leads to the arrest and indictment of Abdullah. All calls are kept anonymous and confidential, officials said. Crimestoppers may be reached at 908-654-TIPS.
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