Ten Jersey City men have been charged in a pharmacy burglary conspiracy that victimized at least 40 pharmacies in northern New Jersey over three months, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig.
Charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit burglary involving controlled substances are Jersey City residents Mohummad Simmons, 25, aka “Mo Waps;” Tamir Brown, 27, aka “Stragg;” Rico Phang, 19, aka “Little Mil;” Deon Davis, 24, aka “Dee;” Michael Simeus, 27, aka Jerk;” David Booker, 28; Darrel Hicks, 25; Daquan Hart, 22, aka “Day Day;” Jamiel French, 27, aka “Money Mil;” and Tyriq Rembert, 28.
Simmons, Hart, and Rembert appeared by videoconference for their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Clark III on Jan. 22, and Hicks appeared on Jan. 26 by videoconference for his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Wettre. Brown is in custody on related state charges.
The remaining men – Phang, Davis, Simeus, Booker, and French – are still at large according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A ‘crime spree’
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from Oct. 11, 2020, through Dec. 22, 2020, the men allegedly forcibly entered and burglarized, or attempted to burglarize, pharmacies throughout northern New Jersey.
They typically wore dark clothing, face masks, and gloves, and allegedly gained entry to the pharmacies by breaking windows or doors with a brick or a rock.
They allegedly took various types of controlled substances and other prescription drugs to sell.
During these burglaries, several controlled substances were prioritized, including codeine, a Schedule II controlled substance; acetaminophen with codeine, a Schedule III controlled substance; and promethazine with codeine, a Schedule V controlled substance. Pharmacies were victimized in Secaucus, North Bergen, Linden, Guttenberg, Kenilworth, Madison, Short Hills, Iselin, Jersey City, West New York, North Arlington, and Lyndhurst.
On Oct. 11, 2020, at approximately 4:40 a.m., Simmons, Phang and “a conspirator” allegedly forcibly entered a pharmacy in Secaucus and took promethazine with codeine, and were recorded on surveillance video. They fled the scene allegedly in a black Chevrolet Malibu registered to Simmons.
Before the burglary, the Malibu allegedly approached the area following a silver Pontiac Grand Prix, and immediately after the burglary, the Malibu left the area following the same Pontiac.
On or about October 22, at approximately 3:47 a.m., Phang and another co-conspirator allegedly forcibly entered a North Bergen pharmacy while Simmons allegedly stood outside as a lookout.
They allegedly took promethazine with codeine. The video surveillance footage from the pharmacy showed Simmons, Phang, and the “co-conspirator” allegedly wearing the same clothing as seen in another North Bergen Pharmacy burglary earlier that same day.
The video showed them depart in the same Malibu.
On Oct. 31, French was arrested in Kearny, allegedly in possession of promethazine DM. The National Drug Code number matched the substance stolen from the North Bergen pharmacy.
At the time of French’s arrest, he was driving the Pontiac, and Phang was seated in the front passenger seat.
On Nov. 6, 2020, at approximately 5:45 a.m., Simmons and Phang allegedly forcibly entered a pharmacy in Linden with the intent to steal controlled substances.
Approximately one hour and 15 minutes before the burglary, the two men had been the subjects of a motor vehicle stop in Union, N.J., while traveling in the Malibu. Surveillance video footage from the pharmacy in Linden showed Simmons and Phang wearing the same clothing that they were wearing during the body camera footage of the motor vehicle stop.
The surveillance video showed Simmons and Phang depart the area of the burglary in the Malibu.
The charge of conspiring to burglarize pharmacies carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
A team effort
“The complaint charges that the defendants went on a crime spree throughout northern New Jersey, breaking into pharmacies and stealing dangerous controlled substances, including opioids,” Honig said. “I applaud the Drug Enforcement Administration and our local law enforcement partners for responding quickly to identify these suspects so that they can be brought to justice.”
“The success of this investigation was the result of teamwork, the sharing of information between law enforcement agencies, and good, old-fashioned police work,” Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division Susan Gibson said. “Those arrested thought they could get away with their crime wave of theft, but they will now face justice. The public should know that DEA and our law enforcement partners will always pursue those who choose to violate the law.”
Honig credited the Secaucus Police Department, under the direction of Chief Dennis Miller, with leading the investigation into this multi-jurisdictional burglary ring, along with special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Gibson. She thanked the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Jersey City, North Bergen, Harrison, Hillside, Elizabeth, Guttenberg, Kearny, North Arlington, Bernards Township, Maywood, Lyndhurst, Millburn, Linden, Woodbridge, Madison, West New York, Clifton, Parsippany, Roselle, Hoboken, Edison, Kenilworth, Highland Park, Belleville, Teaneck, and Bayonne police departments.
Desiree Grace Latzer, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division in Newark, is prosecuting the case.
To see the full complaint, go to https://tinyurl.com/3f6tmauh.