Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced on Thursday the arrests of three men in the takedown of a major fentanyl and heroin mill in Harrison that distributed narcotics in wax folds stamped with the same brand names that have been linked to 227 overdoses, including 84 deaths.
Roughly 32,500 individual doses and four kilos of fentanyl and heroin were seized in the investigation.
According to the attorney general, the New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force and the Division of Criminal Justice made the arrests as part of an ongoing investigation.
“We prevented countless doses of fentanyl and heroin from reaching drug users by taking down this mill. Given that the stamps seized bear the same names as drugs linked to 84 deaths, we may have saved many lives,” Grewal said in a statement.
“This operation reflects a proactive and collaborative strategy in which we recently deployed a new State Police task force, supported by a $2.8 million federal COPS grant, to target drug mills and other major drug sources as choke points in the supply line of these deadly opioids. This case is an early and tremendous victory for the Opioid Enforcement Task Force and our new strategy,” Grewal said.
The New Jersey State Police recently established the Opioid Enforcement Task Force, designed to strategically target heroin and fentanyl sources of supply across the state. In October, the Department of Law & Public Safety, New Jersey State Police, was awarded a $2.8 million grant for this Task Force from the Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Anti-Heroin Task Force Program.
Brian Michael, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), Newark said that the opioid epidemic is a national crisis with local implications across New Jersey that has left a trail of death and destroyed families.
“As long as there is supply and demand, these drug pushers will continue to flood our streets with these highly addictive, lethal drugs. The results of this investigation would not have been possible without the seamless intelligence and information sharing between Homeland Security Investigations, New Jersey State Police, and local law enforcement,” said Michael.
Investigators found 150 bricks of fentanyl in the black duffel bag in a Cadillac XTS. A brick consists of 50 individual doses of narcotics packaged in wax folds. Inside the drug mill, they seized three kilograms of fentanyl, one kilogram of heroin mixed with fentanyl, 500 bricks of fentanyl (approximately 25,000 individual doses containing fentanyl packaged for distribution), and drug milling equipment, including 29 coffee grinders, kilo presses, wax folds, and respirator masks.
They also found 43-rubber ink stamps used to stamp brands on the wax folds. Information obtained from police reports throughout the state indicates that 25 of those stamps bear the same brand names that have been linked to a total of 227 overdoses, including 84 fatal overdoses.
“We know that our state is home to far too many people struggling with addiction,” said Grewal. “But we ask that, no matter what challenges you’re facing in your life, if you see heroin stamped with these markings, please, please stay away from it. Your next fix could be your last. If you encounter any of these stamps, please notify law enforcement. Many departments and County Prosecutors across our state allow individuals to turn in drugs and paraphernalia, no questions asked.”
The attorney general’s office said that the complaints are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.