UCPO drug investigations lead to arrests, seizures of narcotics, cash, firearms
Three separate investigations into drug sales in Plainfield and Roselle have culminated in five arrests, dozens of criminal charges, and the recovery of two handguns and tens of thousands of dollars in cash and narcotics, including large sums of heroin and prescription opiates, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Tuesday.
Arrested during the recent execution of search warrants were Carlos Pernell, 23, of Atlantic Street in Elizabeth, Markel Pitt Jr., 25, of North Wood Avenue in Roselle, Aquil Holman, 34, of Pleasantview Drive in Piscataway, and 26-year-old Mayrenid Hidalgo-Bautista and 46-year-old Juana Bautista Velez, both of Monroe Avenue in Plainfield.
Holman was arrested at his home Friday morning following a joint investigation involving the Plainfield Police Division and the Prosecutor’s Office’s Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force (GGDVCTF). He is charged with first-degree maintaining a drug production facility, two second-degree drug offenses, two second-degree weapons offenses, and a fourth-degree charge of being in possession of a defaced firearm.
Recovered during a search of Holman’s home were approximately 40 grams of raw heroin and a .45-caliber handgun and ammunition. Also seized were items used to process and package heroin, including approximately 3,000 unused folds, cutting agents, scales, breathing masks, and other materials. Assisting in the execution of the warrant for Holman’s home, with thanks from the Prosecutor’s Office, were the Piscataway Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Pernell was arrested Monday morning at his place of employment, Roselle Jewelry Exchange on West First Avenue in Roselle, and Pitt was arrested at his home around the same time following a joint investigation involving the Roselle Police Department and the GGDVCTF. Pitt was charged with 17 criminal offenses – including four second-degree drug offenses, 11 lesser drug offenses, and a second- and third-degree weapons offense – while Pernell was charged with 10 drug-related crimes.
At Pitt’s home investigators recovered a .40-caliber handgun and ammunition that was reported stolen out of Johnstown, Pa. during a November 2013 burglary, plus more than $18,000 in cash, approximately 20 grams of cocaine, 400 Oxycodone pills, one ounce of the designer drug more commonly known as “molly,” and approximately two pounds of marijuana.
At the jewelry store investigators recovered approximately 20 pounds of marijuana, more than two dozen Xanax pills, approximately 10 grams of “molly,” five grams of cocaine, and $1,500 dollars in cash.
Hidalgo-Bautista and Velez were arrested Monday evening as the result of an investigation by the Plainfield Police Division and the GGDVCTF; both were charged with first-degree possession of heroin with the intent to distribute and a third-degree drug offense. Located at their home was approximately 300 grams of raw heroin and approximately $10,500 in cash.
“These investigations are indicative of our commitment to eradicating our communities of heroin and other illegal drugs – plus all of the issues affecting quality of life that go along with them,” Park said. “We’re also pleased to be partnering with our local police departments in addressing these matters.”
“We are extremely satisfied with the outcomes of these operations,” Plainfield Police Director Carl Riley said, noting that city police have seized 29 firearms as the result of investigations to date this year. “We’re also proud to have the Prosecutor’s Office as a partner in our efforts to make our streets safer, which in turn makes Plainfield a better place to live.”
All five defendants were expected to have their first appearances in court this week. First-degree crimes typically carry sentences of 10 to 20 years in state prison, whereas second-degree charges typically result in terms of 5 to 10 years.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.