Trenton man pleaded guilty as leader of a drug-trafficking organization

An alleged Bloods gang member today admitted his role as the leader of a Mercer County, New Jersey, drug-trafficking organization responsible for the distribution of heroin in the Trenton area, announced.

Robert Gbanapolor

Robert M. Gbanapolor, 35, of Trenton, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to a superseding indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; one count of possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute a detectable amount of heroin.

Ten other members of this drug trafficking conspiracy have previously pleaded guilty in this case.

According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Gbanapolor and others engaged in a heroin trafficking conspiracy in the areas of Stuyvesant, Hoffman, and Highland avenues in Trenton, as well as in the area of Barbary Road in Philadelphia, from June 2018 through May 2019.

Gbanapolor “Monkey Boy” obtained regular bulk supplies of heroin from Duane Paulino-Escalera, whom Gbanapolor referred to as “Papi.”

Gbanapolor, in turn, distributed this heroin for profit to other members of the drug-trafficking organization, who distributed the heroin in and around Trenton.

Paulino-Escalera pleaded guilty in January 2020 and was sentenced on May 7, 2021, to five years in prison.

The counts to which Gbanapolor pleaded guilty carry a minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison on each of Counts One and Three, and a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison on Count Two.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 19, 2022.

This is not Gbanapolor’s first encounter with the law.

According to law enforcement, members of Trenton’s “Targeted Integrated Deployment Effort” (“TIDE”) unit and the NJ State Police Crime Suppression Unit officers arrested Gbanapolor in March 2014, after finding guns, ammunition and heroin.

TIDE is an intelligence-driven surge in deployments to suppress violent crime led by the State Police involving uniformed and investigative officers—supplemented by other state, county and federal personnel—working with Trenton Police uniform patrols, warrant squads and detectives.

At that time, police found 28 bricks of heroin valued at $14,000, a .38 caliber semi-automatic handgun, along with an assorted amount of ammunition that could be used in .38 caliber, .380 caliber, and .22 caliber weapons during a raid on a lair of the alleged Bloods gang member.

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