Rec Center Used as Drug Hub by Gang Members

Andy Berg Headshot

Federal investigators say gang members were using a popular Newark, N.J., community rec center as a base of operations for a drug ring.  

After a year-long investigation, a number of employees at the Rotunda Recreation Center were arrested this week.

Mayor Ras Baraka was enraged by the findings of the investigation.

“I was completely perturbed. Angry. Upset. I finished yelling at a whole bunch of people this morning. I’ve got some more of that to do,” Baraka told the local CBS affiliate.

In all, the U.S. Attorney’s office charged 12 people, including members of a gang connected to the Bloods street gang. Specifically, the implicated individuals were selling heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine.

“These gang members used the Rotunda Recreation and Wellness Center to conduct narcotics transactions and as a stash location for the narcotics. The rec center is supposed to be there for the community, not for drug dealers,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.

Baraka is promising change.

“In the future we will do record checks, as we move forward, on all employees, even those who are not normally bound by record checks,” Baraka said.

The three part-time employees who were suspended will now be fired.

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