Last Friday, Grammy nominated rapper, Fetty Wap, pled not guilty to federal drug charges based on his alleged involvement with a bicoastal drug ring. Fetty Wap, whose legal name is Willie Jr. Maxwell II, was arrested 1 day prior at Citi Field where he was set to perform at the Rolling Loud music festival.
The 30-year-old “Trap Queen” singer, who is originally from Patterson, New Jersey, has been charged with 1 count of conspiring to distribute and possess controlled substances. Officials have said that Fetty Wap, and 5 others who have been linked to this case, were running a multi-million dollar drug organization.
US Attorney Breon Peace told CNN that the group was distributing more than 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds, of Cocaine, Heroin, Fentanyl, and Crack throughout Long Island, New York and parts of New Jersey. Peace also added that the selling of these highly addictive substances was deliberately contributing to the Opioid crisis that is affecting communities in NY, NJ, and the country as a whole. It is believed that this distribution occurred over a 1 year period beginning in June of 2019.
Fetty Wap’s C0-Defendants
Five other individuals involved in this drug organization were also listed on the same indictment. Over the past month, Fetty Wap’s co-defendants have been arrested and arraigned on separate days. Those charged with the indictment that was unsealed last week include: Anthony Leonard (47), Robert Leonardi (26), Brian Sullivan (26), Kavaughn Wiggins (26), and Anthony Cyntje (23). Cyntje is a former New Jersey corrections officer. Sullivan, Anthony Leonardi, and Cyntje also faced drug trafficking charges when local authorities in Suffolk County seized 17 kilograms of Cocaine, 2 kilograms of Heroin, and $1.5 million in cash.
Suffolk County district attorney, Timothy D. Sini, said in a statement, “They were wholesale drug dealers who pumped massive quantities of narcotics into our communities. The magnitude of this operation was enormous.”
Prosecutors have said that the Leonardi brothers, Sullivan, and Wiggins were tasked with purchasing illicit substances on the West Coast and then transporting them back to the East. They believe Cyntje transported Cocaine from Long Island into New Jersey while Fetty Wap was a “Kilogram level redistributor.” To get the substances into the area, the group was allegedly mailing through the United States Postal Service and hiring drivers with hidden compartments for storing drugs. Five of the 6 defendants in this indictment were charged with using firearms in relation to their drug trafficking activity.
Authorities revealed that during their yearlong investigation, $1.5 million in cash, numerous Fentanyl pills, 10 kilograms of Cocaine, 2 kilograms of Heroin, 2 9-millimeter handguns, 2 pistols, a rifle and ammunition have been recovered. They also believe that the group was using Long Island as their base of operations.
The Overdose Epidemic
Some of the substances distributed by Fetty Wap and his co-defendants are often linked to overdose deaths in the US. Opioids, like Heroin, were the leading cause of overdose deaths last year. Fentanyl, a synthetic Opioid that can be 80 to 100 times stronger than Morphine, was second to Opioids when it came to being linked to overdose deaths in 2020. Additionally, the US saw its highest recorded number of overdose deaths in a 12 month period last year with over 96,000 casualties. This was a 29.6% increase from the previous year.
“The pipeline of drugs in this investigation ran thousands of miles from the West Coast to the communities here in our area, contributing to the addiction and overdose epidemic we have seen time and time again tear people’s lives apart,” said FBI assistant director-in-charge, Michael J. Driscoll.
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Fetty Wap’s Involvement And Arraignment
Fetty Wap, who gained fame in 2015, has not been prominent in pop culture for a few years. CBS New York reported that a source said the rapper turned to drug dealing due to lack of money and prestige. In the past year, Fetty Wap has experienced great tragedy with the loss of his 4 year-old daughter, who had an heart ailment, and the death of his brother, who was shot in Paterson, NJ. Both have been said to have affected Fetty Wap deeply.
The day after he was arrested shortly before his 4:45 pm scheduled performance, Fetty Wap had a video conference with federal court in Central Islip, NY. During his arraignment, Fetty Wap pled not guilty to these charges. He did not seek bail and was held in detention following the hearing. Fetty Wap’s charges carry a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. It has been reported that Fetty Wap has been in negotiations with his lawyer over the past few days. This may indicate that a plea bargain is being discussed.
Driscoll also said in his recent statement, “The fact that we arrested a chart-topping rap artist and a corrections officer as part of the conspiracy illustrates just how vile the drug trade industry has become.”
Emily Murray is a Digital Content Writer at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with Behavioral/Social Sciences and Art concentrations along with a Journalism minor from the University of Central Florida. Dedicated to creativity and conciseness, Emily hopes her words can be of service to those affected by addiction.
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