NEWARK, N.J. – Two high-ranking members of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club were indicted today for assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, narcotics distribution, and firearms offenses, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Larry Ortiz, aka “Savage,” 31, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Junius Aquino, aka “Jayo,” 38, of Vauxhall, New Jersey, were indicted for assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering (Count One) and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence (Count Two), in connection with their roles in a gang-related shooting. Aquino was also charged with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon (Count Three) and possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Count Four), and Ortiz was also charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine (Count Five) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (Count Six).
According to documents filed and statements made in court:
On Oct. 21, 2020, Aquino visited a bar in Verona, New Jersey, with other members of the Pagan’s. When Aquino and his associates exited the bar, a group of individuals approached and assaulted them with baseball bats. Approximately one week later Aquino and Ortiz shot at an associate of the Hells Angels on the New Jersey Turnpike in retaliation for the Verona assault. The Pagan’s and the Hells Angels are known to be rival gangs.
Aquino was also indicted for possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The ammunition charge arises from a shooting that occurred in Elizabeth on Oct. 31, 2020, during which Aquino shot at an occupied vehicle. On Nov. 5, 2020, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Aquino’s residence and recovered, among other items, multiple .40 caliber rounds of ammunition and approximately 50 grams of cocaine. At the time of Aquino’s arrest, he was the vice president of the Elizabeth membership chapter of the Pagan’s.
Ortiz was indicted for possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. On Nov. 17, 2020, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Ortiz’s residence and recovered approximately 300 grams of methamphetamine and a loaded firearm. At the time of his arrest, Ortiz was the president of the Pagans’ Jersey City membership chapter.
These charges were filed as part of a multi-agency investigation into the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club – an outlaw motorcycle gang known to engage in illegal activity, including narcotics trafficking, weapons trafficking, and violent crimes. The Pagan’s have established membership chapters in numerous states and U.S. territories, including multiple active chapters in New Jersey. This investigation involved court-authorized wiretaps, the use of multiple undercover law enforcement agents, and execution of multiple search warrants at physical locations in multiple jurisdictions. Through the investigation, law enforcement seized 10 firearms and more than 800 grams of methamphetamine.
Count One carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Count Two carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000. Count Three carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Count Four carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million. Count Five carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a fine of up to $10 million. Count Six carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited a joint task force comprised of special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Newark Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Matthews; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor William A. Daniel; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to these charges. He also thanked the Elizabeth Police Department, under the direction of Chief Giacomo Sacca, for its assistance with this investigation.
These cases are part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Frazer, R. Joseph Gribko, and Samantha C. Fasanello, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.