Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced on Thursday the results of two collaborative law enforcement operations in Trenton and Paterson aimed at advancing the missions of reducing gun violence and combating the opioid epidemic gripping New Jersey, and the nation.
Brands stamped on wax folds of heroin seized in the two operations are the same brands that have been linked to 57 overdoses, including 26 fatal overdoses and 31 non-fatal overdoses.
In “Operation West End,” the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression Central Unit, Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, and Trenton Police Department Street Crimes Unit conducted multiple investigations targeting gun and drug trafficking in and around the West End section of Trenton.
The operation led to 18 arrests and seizures of 22 guns – including five assault rifles – as well as about 11,000 doses of heroin and fentanyl, 750 grams of cocaine, $52,000 cash, and 18 illegal large-capacity magazines. The arrests began on Aug. 1.
In “Operation 4K Boyz,” Kashard Whitaker, a founding member and leader of the 4K Boyz set of the Bloods street gang and the alleged leader of a heroin and fentanyl distribution network in Paterson, was arrested with nine other targets, including alleged mill operators and associates.
Whitaker allegedly commanded a ring of suppliers and street-level distributors. Miguel Guerrero-Santana allegedly was Whitaker’s primary supplier, operating an opioid mill at 25 Kent Village, aka 769 11th Ave. in Paterson. It is alleged that Carlos Nunez was an additional supplier to Whitaker’s distribution network and operated an opioid mill at 169 Grand St. in Paterson.
The Division of Criminal Justice and Paterson Police Department dismantled two opioid mills, seizing over 27,000 individual doses of heroin, 1 kilo of bulk heroin, and nearly 400 grams of fentanyl, along with equipment and materials used to cut, process and package the drugs. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations assisted in the takedown on Aug. 2.
“These operations in Trenton and Paterson reflect our dual law enforcement priorities of combating the opioid epidemic and suppressing gun violence by targeting the weapons and drug traffickers who fuel these twin scourges,” said Grewal in a statement.
“We are totally committed to these efforts to protect our communities in New Jersey, and we are employing the type of collaborative, intelligence-driven investigations that produce the strong results reflected in these two operations. In each case, drugs allegedly were being distributed bearing stamps that have been linked to numerous overdose deaths. There can be no doubt that lives were saved by these operations – saved from heroin and fentanyl overdoses, and saved from the mayhem inflicted by the assault rifles and other guns with large-capacity magazines we seized,” Grewal said.
Grewal made the announcement at the State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC) with leaders of the participating agencies including Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice, Lt. Col. Geoffrey Noble of the New Jersey State Police, Trenton Police Director Sheilah Coley, and Paterson Police Chief Troy Oswald.
“By joining forces to carry out strategic investigations of this type, we are having a real impact on public safety,” said Allende. “Each gun we take off the streets is potentially a murder or serious shooting we prevent. Each dose of heroin or fentanyl that we seize is potentially an overdose averted. We will continue to do everything in our power to reduce violence and improve the quality of life for residents in Trenton, Paterson, and our other communities across New Jersey.”