A search warrant executed last month at Santana’s Washington Avenue recording studio turned up two fully-loaded 9mm handguns and 17 bags of suspected marijuana, said John L. Molinelli, the Bergen County prosecutor.
Santana, 28, of Teaneck, whose real name is Laron James, was charged on Wednesday with possession of a firearm and a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a handgun without having a permit, possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, and possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance within 1,000 feet of a school zone.
The raid, which Molinelli said was initiated by the prosecutor’s office’s gang unit, also netted two Santana associates last week. One of them, Toby M. Raynor, who raps under the name Hynief, had allegedly sold drugs to undercover prosecutor’s office agents over the summer.
Molinelli described the studio as a well-established gang operation.
“These guys are the real deal,” he said, adding that Santana is believed to be a member of the Bloods street gang.
A Twitter account registered in Santana’s name was updated on Wednesday, urging readers to listen to one of the rapper’s new singles, “Black and Red.” The messages from the account did not mention his arrest.
Santana was a founding member of the Harlem-based hip hop group the Diplomats, whose 2003 album “Diplomatic Immunity” has sold more than 500,000 copies.
Santana arrested twice in Teaneck, most recently in August 2009 for allegedly threatening his girlfriend with a knife.
He was arrested on March 4, 2008, after he was pulled over for driving with a suspended license. Police then found 29 hollow-point bullets inside a knotted white sock in the trunk and marijuana in the car, including burnt marijuana cigarettes and a cigar containing marijuana.
On Wednesday, Molinelli said that Santana and other associates had been distributing drugs from the studio for some time.
“I don’t like to advertise the fact that he’s a rapper, because some of these guys will use the arrest to increase their record sales,” Molinelli said. “To me, he’s just a criminal.”