Accused drug dealers waved down buyers as cops watched, sheriff says

NEWARK -- Essex County sheriff detectives seized a loaded gun, crack cocaine and heroin after they arrested five men in Newark's Vailsburg section, officials said Thursday.

In response to neighborhood complaints about open-air drug sales, narcotics investigators conducted surveillance near South Orange and Columbia avenues Wednesday morning, according to Sheriff Armando Fontoura.

Detectives spotted Keith Jones, 24, of Orange, Abdur Raqib Ali, 20, of Newark, and Tyree Jefferson, 28, of Irvington, apparently beckoning to passing motorists "which is consistent behavior for drug dealers," the sheriff added.

Within minutes, Julius Higgins, 64, of Newark, and his passenger, Bruce Rogers, 48, of Irvington, parked and talked with Ali and Jefferson, authorities said.

"Jefferson and Ali then entered a nearby unoccupied vehicle, removed items from the car and exchanged them with Higgins and Rogers for cash," Fontoura said in a statement. "Higgins and Rogers were followed from the scene and were each found to be in possession of a heroin-filled glassine envelop."

Detectives found a loaded .40-caliber Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun that was stolen from North Carolina, 19 decks of heroin and 28 vials of crack cocaine, according to Fontoura.

Jones also had 11 plastic bags of marijuana while Jefferson was carrying three decks of heroin, the sheriff added.

Jones and Ali were charged with various drug distribution and weapons offenses. The other three men face drug possession charges.


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