NEWARK – Three New Jersey men and one New York man have been arrested in connection with a scheme to allegedly distribute kilogram amounts a controlled substance commonly known as “bath salts,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said Monday.
Kyle Jobes, 23, of East Brunswick, and Charles Knierim, 24, of Old Bridge, were arrested on March 14; Benjamin Caturano, 22, of New Brunswick, and Conor Healion, 22, of West Hempstead, N.Y. were arrested on March 15. All are charged in connection with their alleged respective roles in a conspiracy to distribute Methylenedioxypryovalerone (“MDPV”) in New Jersey and New York. “Bath salts” is the street name for a family of designer drugs that have effects similar to amphetamine and cocaine. Their white and yellow crystals often resemble legal bath salts, like Epsom salts, but are chemically different.
The current investigation involved a package containing approximately two kilograms of MDPV that was intercepted by law enforcement. The package originated in the People’s Republic of China and was supposed to be shipped to an address in Old Bridge. Law enforcement removed the MDPV and replaced it was sham drugs that resembled bath salts. On March 14, law enforcement delivered the package to where it was addressed and watched over the next two days as Knierim, Jobes, Caturano, and Healion allegedly transferred the package among themselves.
According to authorities, after their arrests, a number of the defendants admitted that they had distributed multiple kilograms of bath salts over the past year and that some of the drugs were sold at local college campuses, including Rutgers University and Monmouth University. As part of the investigation, agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations seized more than $90,000 in cash and two luxury automobiles obtained with proceeds from the alleged drug conspiracy.
Knierim made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court on March 15. Jobes, Caturano and Healion made their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Falk in Newark federal court on March 18.
Fishman credited special agents of the ICE-HSI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McLees, with the investigation leading to the arrests, assisted by inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Maria Kelokates, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Robert E. Perez, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations.
The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.