Charges Stem from New Jersey State Police Investigation Where Detectives Recovered 6 Guns, High-Capacity Magazines, Ammunition, and Drugs from Party Bus
TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of 15 individuals after an investigation by the New Jersey State Police led to the seizure of six guns including two ghost guns, four high-capacity magazines, hollow-point ammunition, and drugs from a party bus traveling through Mercer County in October.
The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police. On October 30, 2021, detectives with the Crime Suppression Central Unit learned that a party bus carrying multiple occupants in possession of weapons was traveling through Mercer County and that it would return to the Trenton area via Interstate 195.
In the early hours of October 31st, detectives with the Crime Suppression Unit and Opioid Enforcement Task Force along with members of the Trenton Police Department and Hamilton Police Department located and stopped the bus on Interstate 195 in Hamilton Township. As detectives approached the bus, they observed the occupants allegedly attempting to conceal several weapons within the bus.
The occupants of the bus were arrested and as a result of the investigation, detectives recovered three 9mm handguns, including two ghost guns, a .45 caliber handgun, a .40 caliber handgun, a .380 caliber handgun, four high-capacity magazines, hollow-point ammunition, and promethazine, a prescription syrup. A ghost gun is a firearm that is assembled from various parts that are not imprinted with a serial number registered with a federally licensed manufacturer, making them difficult for law enforcement to trace.
“These guns are a danger to public safety, and we in law enforcement are committed to stopping violence and preventing criminals from getting their hands on illegal weapons,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “Let this indictment be a warning to those engaging in criminal behavior: you will be held accountable.”
“This indictment is a great example of our commitment to keep illegal firearms out of our communities,” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners across all levels to hold those who break the law accountable and reduce the presence of illegal weapons to prevent gun violence in our state.”
“As a result of our detectives’ hard work and keen investigative skills, a cache of illegal weapons and ammunition was removed from the streets. Those in possession will now have to answer for their crimes,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “These indictments are a testament to the dedication and commitment the New Jersey State Police and our law enforcement partners share in order to make our communities safer for residents.”
The following defendants were indicted on January 24 on 2nd degree unlawful possession of a weapon, 3rd degree unlawful possession of a firearm without a serial number, 4th degree possession of hollow nose ammunition, 4th degree unlawful possession of large capacity ammunition magazines, and various first-, second-, third- and fourth-degree weapons offenses. Defendants with an asterisk also face 2nd degree certain persons not to have weapons charges:
- Javon McKinney, 22, of Trenton;
- Jaquan Harper, 20, of Trenton;
- Jahmel Johnson*, 24, of Trenton;
- Joshus Chavis, 21, of Trenton;
- Tahvon Goss*, 23, of Trenton;
- Makai Brown, 21, of Atlanta, GA;
- Maurice Nance, 20, of Trenton;
- Harold Ruiz*, 22, of Trenton;
- Zaequan Cofield, 21, of Trenton;
- Khalil Glanton, 22, of Trenton;
- Daquane McRae*, 26, of Trenton;
- Zaire Leary*, 24, of Trenton;
- Daquan Lewis*, 27, of Trenton;
- Aaron Turner*, 31, of Trenton; and
- Kena West*, 25, of Trenton.
McKinney, Harper, Johnson, and Chavis are also charged with 2nd degree possession, receipt, or transfer of a community gun in connection with one of the firearms seized. A “community gun” is a firearm that is transferred among, between or within any association of two or more persons who, while possessing that firearm, engage in criminal activity or use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.
The indictment is posted online here.
Deputy Attorney General Jaclyn Poulton is lead prosecutor on the case for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.
The investigation was conducted by detectives of the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression Central Unit, including Detective Patrick Septer and Detective Anthony Pompei, working in collaboration with the Trenton Police Department, and Hamilton Township Police Department.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000, while second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, and fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
This investigation is another step towards reducing gun violence in New Jersey, one of Acting Attorney General Bruck’s key priority areas. In addition to long-term enforcement actions, the Attorney General’s Office and local, state, and federal law enforcement partners are establishing a statewide gun violence task force, holding a series of gun buyback programs around the state this summer, as well as performing targeted sweeps of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants for violent offenses, as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat gun violence.
Javon McKinney: Arun D. Lavine, Esq., Lawrenceville, N.J.
Jaquan Harper: Jarred S. Freeman, Esq., Edison, N.J.
Jahmel Johnson: Douglas A. Cole, Esq., Milford, N.J.
Tahvon Goss: Edward H. Heyburn, Esq., East Windsor, N.J.
Makai Brown: Brian McCauley, Esq., Red Bank, N.J.
Maurice Nance: Jacqueline A. Higueruela, Esq., Trenton, N.J.
Harold Ruiz: Christopher G. Olsen, Esq., Metuchen, N.J.
Khalil Glanton: Kerlin Hyppolite, Esq., Cinnaminson, N.J.
Daquane McRae: Terrell A. Ratliff, Esq., Cherry Hill, N.J.
Zaire Leary: Mark A. Fury, Esq., Mount Holly, N.J.
Daquan Lewis: Edward J. Hesketh, Esq., Clinton, N.J.
Aaron Turner: Andrew Seewald, Esq., New Brunswick, N.J.
Kena West: Peter V. Abatemarco, Esq., Lambertville, N.J.
For Others: Undetermined