TRENTON – Five men were sentenced to state prison today as members of a narcotics ring that trafficked 22 kilograms of cocaine from Texas to New Jersey, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced. The ring was led by a former senior state correction officer who has also pleaded guilty.
The men sentenced today were charged along with Eugene W. Braswell, 32, of Newark, a former senior state correction officer who worked at Northern State Prison. Braswell, who was the last to plead guilty, is awaiting sentencing.
These five defendants were sentenced by Superior Court Judge John J. Coyle Jr. in Warren County:
- Delrese Hardy, 37, of East Orange, was sentenced to 15 years in state prison, including seven years of parole ineligibility.
- Joseph L. Jones, 40, of Newark, was sentenced to seven years in state prison, including three years of parole ineligibility.
- Antwan K. Jones, 39, of Sewaren, was sentenced to seven years in state prison, including three years of parole ineligibility.
- Walter S. Braden, 33, of East Orange, was sentenced to seven years in state prison, including one year of parole ineligibility.
- Shuerod Walton, 39, of East Orange, was sentenced to seven years in state prison, including one year of parole ineligibility.
In pleading guilty, Braswell admitted that he and Hardy arranged to have Braden and Walton transport 22 kilograms of cocaine to New Jersey from Houston, Texas. Hardy pleaded guilty on Jan. 21 to first-degree cocaine trafficking. Braswell pleaded guilty on March 16 to first-degree cocaine trafficking and second degree official misconduct.
The investigation into drug trafficking began after Braswell was involved in a shooting in August 2007 outside his Newark home in which he killed Waliford Williams, 34. According to an investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team, Williams shot at Braswell with a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, striking Braswell in the left ankle. Braswell returned fire with his own .40-caliber handgun, striking Williams twice, including once in the neck. Williams died at the scene.
The drug investigation led to the arrest of Walton and Braden on July 12, 2008 following a motor vehicle stop in Pohatcong Township, Warren County. Detectives had a warrant to search the 2000 Dodge Ram Van in which the men were traveling. They seized approximately 22 kilograms of cocaine which were wrapped in heat-sealed plastic bags and hidden in the roof panels of the vehicle. The men were returning from Houston, Texas, with the drugs.
Braden, Walton, Joseph Jones and Antwan Jones pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy charges. The six defendants were arrested in July 2008. The investigation revealed that Braswell and Hardy supervised the other defendants in the purchase and inter-state transportation of large quantities of cocaine from sources in Texas and elsewhere outside New Jersey. The cocaine was sold and distributed in northern New Jersey. Braswell was suspended without pay from his job with the Department of Corrections after his arrest.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and Braswell’s involvement in a fatal gun battle in 2007 led investigators to suspect – and quickly uncover – his involvement in major drug trafficking,” said Dow. “The evidence also led detectives to the five men sentenced today.”
“The strong evidence gathered by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice led one defendant after another to plead guilty in this major narcotics prosecution,” said Taylor. “The sentences imposed today are a testament to the outstanding work of the detectives and attorneys assigned to this case.”
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