MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Twenty-one adults and a 15-year-old male have been arrested following a six-month investigation of heroin trafficking in Middlesex and Somerset counties, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan and Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne J. Forrest announced today.
Following the investigation by the Somerset County Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force and the Middlesex County Gangs, Guns and Drugs Task Force, authorities in both counties, with assistance from Sayreville, East Brunswick, New Brunswick and Franklin Township police departments and members of the New Jersey State Police and Union County Prosecutor’s Office, arrested the defendants at their homes and seized over 600 bricks of heroin. The total seizure has a street value of $400,000 to $450,000.
Each brick contains 50 individual bags of heroin packaged for street distribution. Officials stated that the total weight of the seized heroin was approximately three kilos, 6.6 pounds.
Smaller amounts of cocaine and marijuana also were confiscated by police after they obtained arrest warrants and search warrants. In addition, police confiscated two handguns, ammunition, six automobiles and more than $40,000 cash.
The arrests began at about 8 a.m. on March 26, continued through last weekend and ended March 29. Defendants living in communities including New Brunswick, Franklin Township, and Elizabeth were apprehended by police.
The defendants were arrested on a variety of charges, including counts of conspiracy, possession and distribution of heroin. Bails range from $10,000 to $750,000 for defendants who are being held at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick. Thirteen of the adults and the 15-year-old male were charged and then released on their own recognizance, authorities said.
Among those arrested and charged was Johnel Dunlap, 38, of Elizabeth. He was held on $750,000 bail after he was arrested and charged with being the leader of a heroin network and conspiring to distribute heroin. He also was charged with possession with intent to distribute more than five ounces of heroin.
Also arrested on charges of conspiracy, possession and possession with intent to distribute were William Newbill, 30 also of Elizabeth and Joseph Mosley, 26, of New Brunswick. Their bail were set at $250,000 each.
Tehron Luster, 35, of New Brunswick, was charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine, possession of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute it. His bail also was set at $250,000.
In addition, Jose R. Maldonado, 28, of the Somerset section of Franklin Township, Richard Daggett, 31, of the Parlin section of Sayreville, and Katiria Gomez, 27 of East Brunswick, were charged with conspiring to distribute a controlled dangerous substance. Bail was set at $25,000 for Maldonado and Daggett. Gomez’s bail was set at $10,000.
Arrested on charges of possession and possession with intent to distribute less than one-half ounce of heroin were Wilkins Gonzalez, 33, Naykeeya Willard, 31, and Lashawn Higgins, 23, all of New Brunswick. Bail was set at $100,000 for Gonzalez. Willard and Higgins were released on their own recognizance.
The 15-year-old male was charged as a juvenile with possession and possession with intent to distribute heroin. His name is being withheld because of his age.
Also charged with conspiracy to possess and attempt to possess a controlled dangerous substance are Stephen Stepko, 38, of Sterling; Chris Feliciano, 24, and Nick Feliciano, 20, both of Piscataway; Andrew Lee, 22, of Hillsdale; Diane Przybylko, 41, of South Amboy; Erica Petillo, 20, of the Colonia section of Woodbridge, and Beth Osworth, 43, and James Gagnon, 50, both of East Brunswick. All were released in their own recognizance.
The investigation is continuing and additional charges are anticipated, authorities said.
In addition, Curtis Lagrone, 50, of Franklin Township; Paul Marino, 41, of Parlin, and Stephen Hecht, 46, of Keyport, were charged with conspiracy to possess and attempted possession of a controlled dangerous substance. They also were released on their own recognizance.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against the 21 adults and the teenager are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty, authorities said.
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