Rapper Fetty Wap pleaded not guilty Friday to a federal drug charge after being arrested Thursday before he could take the stage at the New York edition of the Rolling Loud festival.
The “Trap Queen” rapper, real name William Junior Maxwell II, was taken into custody by FBI agents for his alleged involvement in a wholesale drug operation that brought more than 100 kilograms of narcotics to Long Island, N.Y., and New Jersey, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The 30-year-old was charged with conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, controlled substances. Defense attorney Elizabeth Macedonio entered the not guilty plea on his behalf and accepted his continued detention.
“We are not making a bail application today,” Macedonio told U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Locke, noting that she might do so in the future.
Fetty Wap and five others, one of whom is a New Jersey corrections officer, were named in a grand jury indictment unsealed Friday. They are accused of crimes alleged to have occurred between June 2019 and June 2020. Fetty was the last among them to be arrested and arraigned.
If convicted, Fetty Wap faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.
The six defendants are accused of distributing cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine, the indictment said. In addition to the conspiracy charge, the five other defendants are also charged with using firearms in connection to the alleged drug trafficking.
“The fact that we arrested a chart-topping rap artist and a corrections officer as part of the conspiracy illustrates just how vile the drug trade has become,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement.
“As alleged, the defendants transported, distributed and sold more than 100 kilograms of deadly and addictive drugs, including heroin and fentanyl, on Long Island, deliberately contributing to the opioid epidemic that has devastated our communities and taken too many lives,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.
Fetty Wap was taken into custody at Citi Field in Queens — where he was slated to perform at Rolling Loud — before he made it onstage, according to TMZ.
His attorney Navarro Gray told the site that they “pray that this is all a big misunderstanding” and hope to “clear things up expeditiously.” Gray did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment. The rapper was represented at his arraignment by criminal defense attorney Macedonio.
The corrections officer named in the indictment is Anthony Cyntje. The other defendants are brothers Anthony Leonardi and Robert Leonardi, Brian Sullivan and Kavaughn “KV” Wiggins.
Search warrants executed during the investigation resulted in the recovery of about $1.5 million in cash, 16 kilograms of cocaine, 2 kilograms of heroin, numerous fentanyl pills, two 9 mm handguns, a rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, a .40-caliber pistol and ammunition, the DOJ said.
“These defendants ran a multimillion-dollar bicoastal drug distribution organization with Suffolk County as their home base,” said Timothy D. Sini, district attorney for that New York jurisdiction, in a statement. “They were wholesale drug dealers who pumped massive quantities of narcotics into our communities. As our investigation revealed, they would frequently use cutting agents to process just one of those kilograms of drugs into as many as four even before it was distributed to lower-level dealers, so the magnitude of this operation was enormous.”