The information was announced in a press release issued on Sept. 3 by the Division of Criminal Justice from the Office of the Attorney General.
"All the principal defendants were sent to at least five years in state prison," said John R. Hagerty, director of communications for the Division of Criminal Justice.
Of 24 defendants from throughout Hudson and Essex counties, the individuals from Union City were Mongon, Stewart "Milkman" Walker, Eric "Emo" Aiken, Jose Maldonado, Liz Isla, and Miriam Acosta.
The rest came from Jersey City, Hoboken, Irvington and East Orange.
Members were arrested and charged with stealing millions of dollars in merchandise and consumer goods from freight trains, trucking companies and shipping outlets, specifically from the former Conrail Railroad. "At the time it was Conrail, but they no longer exist," said Hagerty. "Conrail was sold to Northfolk Railroad and CSX Railroad."
The Conrail Boyz
According to prosecutors, the North Jersey gang would then sell the stolen merchandise through an underground black market dealing in high-tech electronics, computers, designer clothing and other stolen commodities.
According to Director Vaughn L. McKoy of the Division of Criminal Justice, they have since seized financial assets, real estate, late-model luxury automobiles, and other property owned or maintained by members of the gang and their families, with the aid of the criminal provisions of New Jersey's racketeering and money laundering statutes.
This enabled them to seize the proceeds, estimated into millions of dollars.
"The investigation itself began in 2000, the indictments were made in May of 2003," said Hagerty. "We estimated they had been in operation some 10 years."
According to the statement issued by the Division of Criminal Justice, "The criminal indictment charged that members of the gang burglarized freight trains and shipping outlets throughout northern and central New Jersey. It was charged that Mongon, as the leader of the criminal enterprise, was responsible for developing information regarding the location and schedule of trains and where along the route the train would be accessed; granting permission regarding certain individuals' participation in the gang."
Upon the state grand jury indictments, 22 members were arrested and pleaded guilty before the Union County Superior Court to charges of first degree criminal racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy, burglary, theft, and failure to file tax returns. An elderly Hoboken resident who was charged has a case pending, and one Jersey City man was ruled a fugitive from justice.
"A majority the 24 individuals were taken into custody after the May indictments," said Hagerty. "Some of those individuals were able to make bail, and some were arrested again for committing additional robberies."
The division determined that the members would leap in to the trains while they were in motion at a reduced speed. Bolt cutters and other devices were utilized to break into the truck trailers and shipping containers. As the train continued to move, the gang members threw the merchandise off the trains next to the track, where they would be collected by accomplices, prosecutors said.
Mongon received the lengthiest term of 13 years in state prison. The second principal defendant, Mikhael Centeno of Jersey City, received a term of 12 years in state prison.
The remaining 22 defendants received varying terms, which ranged from 7 to 5 years, including probation for some.