Alleged members of an armed robbery gang were indicted last week in connection to a marijuana theft that ended in the fatal shooting of a man from upstate New York. George Baratta, 46, supposedly rented an Airbnb to transact a large-scale purchase of marijuana in December last year with Marcus Ricketts, 45, Mark Goulbourne, 48 and 34-year-old Romeo Jonas, who posed as buyers.

In a press release from the US Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York, a federal grand jury indicted the defendants for the death of Baratta, who was shot in the rented Airbnb in Brighton Beach, Ocean Parkway on Dec. 3, 2021. Baratta was with his nephew Jonathan Zephir who made arrangements for a wholesale purchase of marijuana when the deal went down the wrong way. 

Expecting the transaction to go smoothly, Zephir arrived with two more men who came with 4 large duffel bags of marijuana worth about $500,000. However, unbeknownst to them, their buyers turned out to be part of a gang of thieves who are known to target drug dealers in the Bronx area as well as in Brooklyn and Staten Island. A little after 2:15 a.m. the transaction turned into a blood bath as the three men tried to run off with the marijuana stash and shot at Baratta and Zephir. Barratta was fatally wounded while Zephir sustained a gunshot wound in the leg. 

Ricketts and Goulbourne managed to flee the scene unharmed however, Jonas was hit in the abdomen. Ricketts took off on a Citibike with one duffel bag while Goulbourne was picked up by his brother, Jonathan Goulbourne in a car and drove off. Cops dispatched to the scene found Baratta’s body along with two guns, a money counting machine, a bag that contained both real and counterfeit U.S. dollars as well as one duffel bag filled with vacuum-sealed marijuana.

While searching the nearby area, police were able to locate two more guns and two marijuana-filled duffel bags. The fourth marijuana duffel bag has not been found to date. In February this year, police arrested Ricketts, Jonathan Goulbourne and Zephir while three more suspects linked to the marijuana heist were arrested and charged last week. Mark Goulbourne remains at large to this day.

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