PATERSON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa today announced the arrest of the alleged ringleader and 14 other defendants in the takedown of a major narcotics supply network that allegedly was distributing millions of dollars in heroin out of a number of heroin processing “mills” and stash houses in Paterson. Arrest warrants are outstanding for two other defendants who remain fugitives.
Chiesa made the announcement at the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office with Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor, Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik, Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division, Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert G. Koval of the DEA’s New Jersey Division, and Capt. William Riggins of the New Jersey State Police. The arrests stem from “Operation Dismayed,” a six-month investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and DEA New York Division. The New Jersey State Police and DEA New Jersey Division assisted.
Last week, on Nov. 13 and 14, a multi-agency force, led by the Division of Criminal Justice, was deployed in Paterson and Prospect Park to arrest the alleged drug suppliers and raid their heroin processing and stash houses. Detectives searched 10 residences and one vehicle in the investigation, seizing three kilos of bulk heroin, another kilo of heroin packaged in thousands of glassine envelopes for individual sale, and about $255,000 in cash. The bulk heroin has a “wholesale” value of more than $300,000, and could have sold for in excess of $1 million once cut and individually packaged for sale on the street. The drug network is believed to have supplied multiple kilos of heroin per week to other suppliers and large-scale dealers. They did not generally sell to street-level dealers. The ring allegedly distributed heroin to dealers in northern New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
The ring’s alleged leader, Segundo Garcia, 36, of Prospect Park, was charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, a first-degree crime that carries a sentence of life in prison, including 25 years without parole. He was also charged with first-degree distribution of heroin, first-degree possession with intent to distribute, and second-degree conspiracy. All other defendants were charged with first-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute or second-degree conspiracy to distribute heroin.
“Drug dealing is at the heart of the crime and violence plaguing Paterson and our other cities, so taking down major drug suppliers like these defendants, who we allege were polluting our communities by distributing millions of dollars in heroin, will have a real impact on public safety and quality of life,” said Chiesa. “We will continue to pursue these proactive, multi-agency investigations that take aim at the ringleaders and the main sources of narcotics, not just street-level dealers.”
“We allege that these drug suppliers operated multiple stash houses around Paterson, as well as heroin mills where they cut the heroin and packaged it into bricks – bundles of about 50 ten-dollar glassine envelopes or ‘bags’ of heroin, ready for distribution on the streets of our cities,” said Taylor. “In addition to the three kilos of bulk heroin we seized, we seized nearly 500 bricks of heroin, each with a street value of several hundred dollars.”
“This was a true multi-agency operation,” said Passaic County Sheriff Berdnik. “I commend the Attorney General for the coordination his office provided in making these arrests possible. I feel strongly that the only way to truly reduce narcotics trafficking and street crime is by arresting the individuals involved in creating and implementing the distribution network. This operation will certainly go a long way in reducing drug trafficking in Passaic County.”
“This investigation dismantled the Segundo Garcia heroin trafficking organization operating in New York and New Jersey,” said Special Agent in Charge Crowell of the DEA New York Division. “Heroin trafficking organizations are the primary threat to our region and are fueled by the diversion of pain medicine. The tenacity of investigators assigned to this task force has prevented hundreds of thousands of glassines from being distributed to our communities throughout the region. I highly commend the task force team for their efforts on behalf of the public they are sworn to serve. They completely dismantled multiple heroin mills and removed the dangerous threat of alleged significant drug traffickers from our community.”
Investigators seized 1.5 kilos of heroin, a kilo of cocaine, and packaging materials and equipment from an alleged heroin mill located on the first floor of 447 East 21st Street in Paterson. The cocaine has a street value of approximately $35,000. They seized an additional 1.5 kilos of heroin and $220,000 in cash from a second mill located on the first floor of 246 Maryland Avenue in Paterson. Workers clad in aprons and surgical masks allegedly worked at these and other locations to cut, process and package heroin for the network.
Garcia, a Dominican national, served more than five years in federal prison for drug dealing beginning in 2000. He was subsequently deported by federal immigration authorities, but re-entered the U.S. illegally and allegedly established his large-scale heroin distribution network in Paterson. A second man, Wilfredo “Willie” Morel, 39, of Paterson, allegedly worked with Garcia to obtain large quantities of heroin and also exercised independent leadership control over other members of the supply network. He was charged with second-degree conspiracy to distribute heroin.
The arrested individuals were lodged in the Passaic County Jail. Bail for Garcia was set at $350,000 cash, with a bail source hearing required. Cash bails were set for the other defendants ranging from $125,000 to $250,000, with bail source hearings required in every case.
The complaints that were filed are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.