TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today announced the takedown of a violent narcotics distribution network, with ties to Mexican drug cartels, that was dealing millions of dollars a year in heroin and cocaine in North Camden. A total of 47 individuals, including three brothers who allegedly led the ring, were charged with first-degree racketeering.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman made the announcement at the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office with Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice and Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk. A multi-agency team has arrested 34 of the defendants, and the remaining targets are being sought on warrants.
The arrests include two alleged leaders of the network, Omar Urbina, 39, of Philadelphia, Pa., and his brother, Edwin Urbina, 33, of Pennsauken. In addition to racketeering, they are charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, a first-degree crime that carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Their brother, Edward Urbina, 34, of Camden, who also allegedly headed the ring, is being sought as a fugitive on a racketeering charge. Omar and Edwin Urbina were arrested on Friday, Nov. 8. Three other arrests were made on Nov. 8 and one was made on Nov. 11, but most arrests were made today.
The charges stem from Operation North Pole, a nine-month investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Investigative assistance was provided by the Camden County Police Department-Metro Division, Camden County Sheriff’s Department, Pennsauken Police Department and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations in Cherry Hill. Numerous agencies, including the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, participated as members of the multi-agency force that fanned out across Camden beginning early this morning to arrest the remaining targets of the investigation.
The three Urbina brothers allegedly headed a highly organized network that sold hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in heroin and cocaine in the area surrounding 4th and York Streets in North Camden. Associates allegedly “rented” blocks or street corners from the Urbina family, allowing them to sell drugs in those areas. In return, the Urbinas provided protection to the “tenants.” The Urbinas allegedly relied on violence to keep interlopers off of their “set.”
The Urbina family and its associates allegedly have controlled the open-air drug markets in this area of Camden for many years. The three brothers allegedly relied on multiple suppliers who obtained heroin and cocaine from Mexican drug cartels. A number of the defendants have violent criminal records and some have ties to criminal street gangs.
“This multi-million dollar narcotics syndicate headed by members of the Urbina family allegedly has operated in North Camden for many years, pushing its poison to countless young users and ruling its turf with intimidation and violence,” said Hoffman. “Through Operation North Pole, we are putting an end to this criminal dynasty and making the community safer for the good families who live here.”
“The detectives and attorneys who worked on Operation North Pole have dismantled this organized criminal network – from its top-level suppliers and kingpins to its street-level drug pushers,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to build targeted, long-term operations to take down violent drug syndicates and protect the people of Camden.”
Investigators executed 13 search warrants, seizing more than $218,000 in cash, six guns and more than 5 ounces of cocaine. In addition, 10 cars and one “party bus” were seized, with additional vehicles still subject to seizure.
The defendants are being lodged in the Camden County Jail. Bail for each of the Urbina brothers is set at $1 million. Bails for the other defendants are set at $100,000 to $1 million. All 46 men and one woman charged in the investigation are charged with first-degree racketeering. That charge carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. All were also charged with third-degree conspiracy, and many were charged with second or third-degree drug distribution offenses.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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