TRENTON –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that a state grand jury has indicted nine men in an investigation that targeted a large-scale cocaine distribution ring in Cumberland County. During the investigation, the Division of Criminal Justice dismantled a drug mill in Vineland, where they seized heroin and fentanyl, as well as assault rifles and illegal large capacity magazines.
The indictment handed up today is the result of an eight-month investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau that led to arrests of a dozen defendants in late 2017. The Division of Criminal Justice was assisted by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. Three other defendants pleaded guilty to first-degree distribution of cocaine prior to today’s indictment.
The Division of Criminal Justice obtained an indictment charging Terrel Goodwin, 30, of Vineland, with first-degree promoting organized street crime. Goodwin, who allegedly was a major supplier of cocaine, is also charged with first-degree distribution of cocaine, along with George Smith, 58, of Bridgeton. Goodwin, Smith, and six other men are charged with second-degree conspiracy. Those six other men allegedly acted as “runners” for Goodwin, distributing cocaine to street-level dealers.
The ninth indicted defendant, Alexander Torres, 33, of Vineland, was arrested when detectives of the DCJ Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau executed a search warrant during the investigation at his basement apartment on North Myrtle Street, where they seized six guns, including two illegal assault rifles, and four illegal large capacity magazines. They also seized nearly 100 grams of heroin mixed with fentanyl, nearly a kilogram of powder dibutylone (“bath salts”), over 900 dibutylone pills, and drug milling equipment, including grinders, blenders, mixing bowls, respirator masks, scales and a pill press.
Torres is charged with first-degree maintaining a narcotics production facility, as well as drug and weapons offenses, including possession of a weapon as a convicted felon, possession of firearms during commission of a drug crime, and possession of assault rifles and large-capacity magazines.
“The drugs and guns seized in this investigation speak to the danger this criminal ring posed to residents in the communities where they operated,” said Attorney General Grewal. “By dismantling this network and filing first-degree charges against the lead defendants, we took important steps to promote safety and security in South Jersey.”
“By conducting proactive investigations that target large-scale distributors of narcotics and that cut deeper into the supply network, we maximize our impact on drug dealing and the violence that so often accompanies it,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend the detectives and attorneys in our Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau who conducted this operation, which led to first- and second-degree charges against a dozen alleged drug dealers.”
Three other cocaine suppliers who allegedly supplied or received cocaine from Goodwin were arrested during the investigation and pleaded guilty previously to first-degree distribution of cocaine. Each of the following men is awaiting sentencing and faces a recommended sentence of 10 years in state prison:
- Moses Arellano, 23, of Vineland, N.J.
- Christian Padilla, 28, of Glassboro, N.J.
- Oscar Gonzalez, 36, of Vineland, N.J.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Rastelli was assigned to the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Erik Daab and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis. Deputy Bureau Chief Daab presented the case to the state grand jury. Lead detectives for the DCJ Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau were Detective Jeffrey Lorman and Detective Todd Watkins, as well as the entire Organized Crime South Unit, under the supervision of Detective Sgt. Peppi Pichette, Deputy Chief of Detectives Christopher Donohue, and Chief of Detectives Weldon Powell. Attorney General Grewal thanked the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section for their valuable assistance.
The following is a full list of the defendants charged in the indictment returned today:
- Terrell Goodwin, 30, of Vineland, N.J
- George Smith, 58, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Alexander Torres, 33, of Vineland, N.J.
- Stephen Fortune, 30, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Joshua Rivera, 21, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Wesley Bowleg, 46, of Bridgeton, N.J.
- Eric White, 31, Vineland, N.J.
- Kyle Mills, 33, of Bridgetown, N.J.
- Joseph Flores, 26, of Vineland, N.J.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000, while second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The sentence for promoting organized street crime must be served consecutively to the sentence for any underlying offense. First-degree distribution of cocaine carries an enhanced fine of up to $500,000. Possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a minimum term of parole ineligibility of five years. The third-degree drug charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $35,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Brown in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Cumberland County, where the defendants will appear in court at a later date for arraignment.
For Goodwin: Mark Burnstein, Esq., Cherry Hill, N.J.
For Smith: Undetermined
For Torres: Durann Neil, Esq., Atlantic City, N.J.
For Fortune: Richard Sparaco, Esq., Cherry Hill, N.J.
For Rivera: Andrew Imperiale, Esq., Ventnor, N.J.
For Bowleg: Brian O’Malley, Esq., Haddon Heights, N.J.
For White: Terry Stomel, Esq., Bridgeton, N.J.
For Mills: John P. Morris, Esq. Bridgeton, N.J.
For Flores: Al Wheeler, Esq., Hammonton, N.J.