ELIZABETH — The alleged leader of a Bloods street gang who is accused of operating an established drug ring in Elizabeth, turned himself into the authorities over the weekend, Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow announced Sunday.
Luqman Abdullah, 31, is charged with first degree racketeering, and first degree maintaining a narcotics production facility and numerous drug and weapon offenses. Following his arrest he was ordered held on $5 million bail.
The original warrant for Abdullah’s arrest arose from an investigation by members of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, Elizabeth Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant Prosecutor Julie A. Peterman and members of the Prosecutor’s Office Gangs, Drugs and Violent Crimes Task Force had been relentless in their pursuit of Abdullah. The U.S. Marshals Service also assisted in the investigation and manhunt.
Abdullah rose to notoriety 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 the prosecutor.
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 Abdullah’s drug operation in November 2008 and through a variety of information gathering techniques were able to successfully map out the group. 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.
The group also used a house in Sayreville to stash the proceeds from the sales. Authorities also seized an amount of marijuana, heroin and other items during the raids.
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. During operation Red Zone, authorities arrested 21 associates and co-conspirators and seized over $80,000 in drug proceeds, an AK-47 assault rifle stolen from North Carolina, three handguns and mass quantities of cocaine. Approximately seven pounds of cocaine—enough to fill over 30,000 vials for street level distribution—were seized from a stash house that Abdullah and his two closest lieutenants frequented in Newark, said Romankow.
On April 23, 2009, members of law enforcement attempted to arrest Luqman 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. Immediately after escape, law enforcement officers pursued a number of leads and tips from around the country, but were unable to locate him. The case was even featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in late 2009, and was repeated several times afterwards.
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.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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