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Mommy-to-be is drug-busted
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Home away from home
Home away from home


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Mommy-to-be is drug-busted
Man, 23, held too
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
By CARLY BALDWIN
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Cops busted an expectant mom and her boyfriend on drug charges after finding thousands of bags of heroin in the refrigerator of their Pacific Avenue apartment, reports said.

Naomi Lecher, 21, who is six months pregnant, and Ruben S. Castro, 23, were charged with selling drugs after cops raided their two-story home at about 7 p.m. Saturday, said Sgt. Edgar Martinez of the Jersey City police.

Cops began monitoring the home about five hours earlier, after receiving anonymous tips that Castro was planning to make a drug delivery that day.

Shortly after 3 p.m., police saw him leave the house and walk south on Pacific, carrying under his arm a square white object wrapped in a Spanish-language newspaper.

Thinking Castro was holding drugs, police stopped him on the corner of Johnston Avenue and Halliday Street. He dropped the paper and ran into a corner deli, Martinez said. Inside the white packaging, police found 500 plastic bags stamped "LRG" in green letters, which they suspected to contain heroin, Martinez said.

Moments later, as Castro was being arrested inside the deli, Lecher left the home and walked toward the store, Martinez said. As soon as she noticed the police, she ran back toward the house, Martinez said.

After securing a search warrant, cops and agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency searched the home about 7 p.m., where they found five large bags holding 15,820 smaller plastic bags of heroin stored in the refrigerator, said Martinez. The larger bags were marked "Rolex," "LRG," "Happy People" and "No Way Out."

Police also found Castro's suspected drug sale money, $2,123, in a dresser in the front bedroom, said Martinez.

While police were searching the home, Lecher complained of stomach pains; she was taken by ambulance to the Jersey City Medical Center.

Upon her release later Saturday night, she joined Castro in the Hudson County jail. Both are being held on various drug charges, Martinez said.

Bail was set at $300,000 in cash for each yesterday afternoon, said John Rosello, an official at Central Judicial Processing Court in Jersey City.

Posted on: 2006/5/9 21:20
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Prison door to slam again on dealer, 22. -- Neighborhood crime watch begun in one of the projects.
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Prison door to slam again on dealer, 22
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

A jury took less than 20 minutes Friday to convict a 22-year-old Jersey City man on a dozen drug charges, officials said yesterday.

Donald Mincey, who at age 22 has already spent more than a year of his young life in prison, could be sentenced to up to 10 years when he's sentenced June 30 for dealing heroin and cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and 500 feet of public property, Silverstein said.

"Based on his history, Jersey City is definitely a much better place without having him around," Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Aaron Silverstein said yesterday. "I will argue for the maximum sentence."

Mincey, a resident of Van Wagenen Avenue, was caught selling drugs on a street corner near the A. Harry Moore Public Housing Complex on Duncan Avenue near Lincoln Park, Silverstein said.

He was only 19 years old when previously busted for dealing drugs near a school and he spent from Jan. 10, 2003, to April 5, 2004, in prison on that conviction, state corrections officials said.
-----------------

Tenants in Jersey City housing complex unify, risk their own safety to halt drug trade
Monday, May 08, 2006
By ROSE DUGER
JOURNAL CORRESPONDENT

W hen Mahotia Grant comes downstairs at Jersey City's A. Harry Moore housing complex, the drug dealers know they'd better move on. If not, they'll risk a stern lecture from a member of the A. Harry Moore Tenant Task Force, an organized and committed group of tenants who are determined to chase drug dealers from their neighborhood.

"You can't even come out the door without seeing them," said Grant of the brazen pushers and their customers, almost none of whom live in the complex. "I tell them, 'You can't sell your stuff here. You have to move.' Now if they see me coming, they start to move right away."

Long dismayed by the prevalence of drugs in their neighborhood, tenants of the public housing complex last year banded together to stage an aggressive face-off that prevented the felons from doing business for a full day.

Bearing signs that read "Keep Drug Dealers Out," the tenants picketed and denied dealers access to the property. They also armed some residents, including children and seniors, with brooms and garbage bags to do a symbolic clean sweep that signaled a new day dawning for the neighborhood that had long been beleaguered by crime.

The task force has no set schedule but has continued to mobilize.

"When they're out there en masse, the drug dealers are not going to come into the complex," said Capt. William Costigan of the West District - estimating that drug traffic is reduced by 70 or 80 percent on days when the task force assembles volunteers to patrol the complex.

"The women let (drug buyers) know that they're not welcome there," he said.

For their efforts to stop drug dealers in their tracks, the members of the A. Harry Moore Tenant Task Force has been selected as 2006 Jersey Journal Everyday Heroes in the Working for a Safer Neighborhood category.

The idea for the task force was born in the summer, when tenant Joanie Halley became dismayed as she gazed around the complex that so many good people call home. In addition to the drug dealers, homeless people slept in front of doors, steps from where the neighborhood's children were playing.

While Jersey City police regularly patrol the area, the drug trade is so brisk that officers stationed there couldn't keep up. Tenants recall one officer rounding up and handcuffing nine druggies in a single arrest. But as fast as police round them up, more come to take their place, said the frustrated tenants.

Halley had enough and ignited the spark in her fellow tenants to form the task force.

"They had no respect for our children," Halley said of the pushers and users. "A lot of the tenants said, 'That's it' We paid the rent and we lived there, but we had no say-so. We went door to door to get people involved in Operation Clean Sweep."

The effort came to life Aug. 30, when more than 100 tenants confronted strangers who came to the complex to sell or buy drugs. The Jersey City Housing Authority provided T-shirts to participants, games for the children and refreshments for all of the volunteers, while the Jersey City Incinerator Authority donated brooms and garbage bags.

Halley's heart swelled when the more than 100 volunteers started pouring out of the complex at 6:30 a.m., the time designated by organizers for the kickoff. After enjoying a quick breakfast together, they set to work picketing up and down Duncan Avenue and preventing cars and strangers from entering until 3 p.m.

"Five-year-olds were asking for brooms," she said. "This let everyone know what neighborhood means."

Patricia Jackson, the Housing Authority's director of resident support services, called it "a stupendous effort."

"Residents in public housing don't co-sign for this type of living," said Jackson of the drug-infested hallways and courtyards. "Drug violence was trying to take over and these tenants weren't having it."

Strength may come in numbers, but that didn't stop the druggies from trying to intimidate the tenants. Some even threatened the mostly female group and their families.

"It was scary, but we didn't back down," Grant recalled. "We wouldn't let them stop us."

"We were very scared," Halley agreed. "They were threatening our families."

Fearing for the safety of the tenants, the Housing Authority has since requested that the residents not take on the dealers and users alone," said Maria Maio, executive director of the Housing Authority.

"I think they did put themselves at risk, and that's always an issue when dealing with bad people," Maio said. "It's even more commendable that they were willing to take that risk."

A. Harry Moore is undergoing major change, as the fourth of its seven high-rises is shortly due to be demolished, and construction of mixed-income townhouses will begin later this spring, Maio said.

Halley said the group plans to hold activities for the complex's children this summer to build pride in the neighborhood.

"We're going to try to keep this going," she said. "Once they start rebuilding here, we don't want this stuff going on. We're trying to change our community."

Posted on: 2006/5/9 21:04
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