Paterson, N.J. – An investigation led by the New Jersey State Police Trafficking North Unit, working within the New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force (OETF), resulted in the arrest of four suspects, the seizure of more than $100,000 worth of drugs, and the dismantling of a drug mill operating in Paterson, N.J. The mill operators allegedly distributed their narcotics in wax folds stamped with brand names that have been linked to 22 total suspected overdoses across New Jersey, including 14 fatal overdoses.
During a two-month investigation, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Trafficking North Unit determined that an opioid mill was being operated out of a residence on 9th Avenue in Paterson and was a distribution point for narcotics in the area. On Friday, March 6, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Trafficking North Unit along with members of the State Police T.E.A.M.S, K9, and Hazmat Units executed a search warrant at the residence. As a result, investigators seized 600 grams of raw heroin/fentanyl mixture, approximately 25,000 wax folds of heroin, and $1,967 cash.
Additionally, detectives seized 11 different stamps used to brand packaged narcotics, cutting agents, several cellular phones, and sifters and grinders, which are all consistent with a narcotics production facility. Drug traffickers market their “brand” of drug by ink-stamping the outside of a wax fold with a unique image, word or phrase such as “YouTube,” “Pablo,” and “Body Bag,” which are examples of stamps recovered from this mill.
Anthony Rosario, 37, of Paterson, N.J., Luis Peguero, 33, of Bronx, N.Y., Ricky Rodriguez, 34, of Passaic, N.J., and Angel Ramirez, 33, of Hazelton, PA were charged with maintaining a CDS production facility, possession with intent to distribute, possession within 1,000 feet of a school zone, possession of drug paraphernalia, and conspiracy to engage in distribution of CDS. All four suspects were lodged at the Passaic County Jail pending detention hearings.
Since October 2018, the OETF has conducted 81 operations and seized more than 665,800 individual doses of packaged opioids valued at $3,329,250, more than 71 kilograms of raw heroin valued at $4,267,740, more than 21 kilograms of fentanyl valued at $877,560, more than 43,200 fentanyl based pills valued at $432,200, more than 21 kilograms of cocaine valued at $768,240, more than $1,541,320 cash, and 45 firearms. The OETF has also disrupted or dismantled 21 fully operational opioid packaging facilities, 1 fully operational fentanyl pill pressing operation, and arrested 132 suspects.
“Since its formation in late 2018, the State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force has dismantled over 20 opioid mills and seized two-thirds of a million potentially deadly doses of heroin and fentanyl,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “There is no telling how many more doses would have been sold or how many more lives would have been lost if we had not dismantled these dangerous drug mills. Through this successful new strategy, we continue to identify the mills fueling overdoses in our communities and target them as chokepoints in the supply line of lethal opioids.”
“In just over a year and a half, the New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force seized more than $11 million worth of narcotics, money which would have been used to enrich criminals and further fund their production mills, but more importantly, the seizure prevented more than 600 thousand potentially lethal doses of narcotics from reaching our communities,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The State Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to utilize innovative investigative techniques and strategies to fight the opioid epidemic and ultimately save lives.”
This case is being prosecuted by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
Charges are merely accusations, and the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.