WEST TRENTON – State Police announced 13 arrests as the result of two large-scale investigations targeting illegal drug and gun trafficking.
“Gun violence takes a heartbreaking toll on our communities, and in three out of four cases, the weapons used by criminals come from outside of New Jersey,” said New Jersey Attorney General Paula T. Dow. “By engaging all levels of law enforcement to target gun traffickers, we are working to shut down the pipeline for illicit guns.”
The operations, which involved cooperation between law enforcement agencies from the federal to the local levels, resulted in the seizure of 17 guns.
Operation Southern Draw, which began in August, uncovered a group of people allegedly making money through several different criminal enterprises. The investigation showed a relationship between the sale of fraudulent identification documents, the sale of stolen cars, carjackings, and the purchase of firearms from North Carolina. Those guns would then be sold for profit back in New Jersey.
The major arrests and search warrants were executed on April 5 when troopers, agents and officers swept through a number of locations in Essex and Union counties. Thirteen handguns, one Uzi assault weapon and one 30/30 rifle were recovered along with two stolen cars and three other vehicles seized.
Several carjackings allegedly planned in Essex and Union counties were thwarted by New Jersey troopers and agents from Homeland Security Investigations, authorities said. In one such effort, three men were detained by a State Police tactical unit when it was believed they were on their way to commit a carjacking in Roselle. George Bresnihan, 47, of Roselle, Samuel Frye, 41, of Newark and Kaseen Lawrence, 34, of Orange were each charged with conspiracy to commit carjacking.
Operation White Cloud focused on the alleged weapons and cocaine distribution network of Nicholas Stens, 24, of Collingswood. In coordinated sweeps on April 7, law enforcement partners executed search and arrest warrants in Camden and other South Jersey areas. Seven people have been arrested on various weapons and drug charges. One handgun, one shotgun, 22 ounces of cocaine valued at $22,000, $15,000 in currency, and two vehicles were seized in the course of this investigation.
“These cases prove that law enforcement agencies at all levels are leveraging each other’s assets like never before. Collectively, we are targeting the people putting weapons in the hands of criminals,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We are confident that these intercepted guns would have resulted in injuries and loss of life—perhaps to innocent bystanders—and we are rightfully proud of these successful investigations,” Fuentes added.
“With these cooperative investigations, we set our sights on defendants who were selling both guns and narcotics, the twin scourges that are destroying so many young lives in New Jersey,” said Director Stephen J. Taylor of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
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