MAJOR CVP SCOOP: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli’s today will announce the dismantling of a large-scale New Jersey heroin trafficking network that stretched from Trenton to Paterson to Hackensack and the arrests of nearly two dozen people, including several identified as local ringleaders — and many ordered held on $750,000 bail each.
- YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A staggering 28 heroin overdose deaths in Bergen County last year left County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli no choice but to change gears and go after both dealers and users — within and outside the county. READ MORE….
Investigators also seized more than 1,000 bricks of heroin that, if sold in individual bags, could fetch anywhere from $250,000 to $1.25 million dollars depending on how it is cut and distributed.
They also confiscated $110,000 in alleged drug proceeds that the prosecutor’s office will seek a judge’s order to keep for law enforcement uses in Bergen County.
County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli has scheduled a 12:30 p.m. news conference at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack to announce the arrests and seizures, the results of a four-month investigation that involved a host of police agencies from Bergen, Passaic and Mercer counties.
Molinelli called them “the backbone of a multi-jurisdictional task force.”
In addition, the prosecutor said he intends to announce nearly 100 arrests of adults between the ages of 18 and 30 for buying or possessing drugs.
Just about all of the defendants already have had court appearances in Hackensack after being arrested over the past two months ( SEE BELOW ).
Molinelli’s Chief of Detectives Steven Cuccinello coordinated the massive investigation, prompted by what the prosecutor called “an alarming increase in the number of overdoses and overdose fatalities in Bergen County that were related to heroin and prescription drug use.”
He pointed to the role heroin plays in local burglaries, thefts and robberies on the user level, as well as the spread of violence between and among distributors.
Molinelli said he hopes the two-pronged attack — targeting dealers at all levels, as well as the young adults from Bergen, Passaic and Rockland counties who buy the drugs — might deter others.
Participating agencies included:
- The Passaic County and Mercer County prosecutors’ offices, and the Paterson police department;
- From Bergen: Police from Hackensack, Paramus, Glen Rock, Ramsey, Allendale, Saddle Brook, Elmwood Park, Fair Lawn and Upper Saddle River;
- Also from Passaic County: Police from Wayne, Totowa, Woodland Park, Bloomingdale, West Milford, Ringwood, Clifton, Little Falls and Pequannock.
Additional support, Molinelli said, was provided by the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration’s Camden and Newark Field Divisions.
“Valuable assistance was provided by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office coordinating the investigation with the Trenton Police Department and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department with search and arrest warrants in the Trenton area,” the prosecutor said.
“Special technical assistance which proved to be extremely helpful to this investigation was provided by the Department of Homeland Security Customs/ICE,” he added.
PHOTO ABOVE: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli (Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter), who also contributed to this story
Among those arrested:
- Two Paterson men, Christian Chiuyare, 33, and 27-year-old Felix Melendez, who are both charged with being leaders of a narcotics network, as well as manufacturing/distributing drugs and conspiracy, for which both were being held in the Bergen County Jail on $750,000 bail each following their arrests Saturday;
- Imier Green, 19, of Trenton, who was arrested on Tuesday and ordered held on $750,000 bail on charges of manufacturing/distributing drugs and conspiracy;
- Steven Williams, 29, of Paterson, who’s charged with conspiracy and with transporting more than $7,000 in drug proceeds — for which he, too, was ordered held on $750,000 bail;
Zamier Gee, 19, and 25-year-old Anthony Johnson of Paterson, Seth Pittman, 27, of Trenton and 28-year-old Kyle Pittman of Ewing, all of whom are charged with heroin/cocaine distribution and were being held on $750,000 bail each.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.