Twenty people have been arrested and significant quantities of cash and multiple types of drugs have been seized as the result of a nearly yearlong investigation into a multi-tiered narcotics distribution ring operating throughout parts of North Jersey, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park and Linden Police Chief James Schulhafer announced Tuesday.
Starting late Friday and continuing into Monday, SWAT teams and other law-enforcement representatives from more than a dozen jurisdictions executed search warrants and made arrests at about a dozen places, including properties on Grier Avenue and East Blancke Street in Linden; locations on Maple Avenue, Laurel Place, and West Scott Avenue in Rahway; and locations on West Grand Street in Elizabeth, Ampere Parkway in Bloomfield, and Fleetwood Place in Newark.
The investigation earlier had revealed that the Grier Avenue location housed a fully functional heroin mill; the building was fortified with thick planks of wood mounted on the insides of doors and a comprehensive surveillance system. Similar video surveillance systems were also in place at the Bloomfield location and the apartment on West Grand Street in Elizabeth, where “customers” would frequently walk to the rear of the building to make purchases of multiple types of drugs in the building’s attic.
Seized at the various locations, which included sales sites and stash houses, were approximately $116,500 in cash, plus approximately 4.5 kilograms of MDMA (better known as “molly”), 60 grams of crack cocaine, 140 grams of cocaine, 140 grams of heroin, 14,000 counterfeit Viagra pills, and more than 100 bottles containing a cumulative total of more than 10,000 units of various prescription pills – not only did this mark the largest seizure of prescription pills in Union County Prosecutor’s Office history, but it also eclipsed the cumulative total of the number of pills processed at the Union County Forensic Laboratory from 2011 through 2013.
Altogether the drugs had a combined estimated street value of more than $525,000, and during the execution of the search warrants, two handguns and four vehicles (an Acura MDX, a Chevrolet Tahoe, a Mercedes-Benz sedan, and a Jeep Grand Cherokee) were also seized.
The investigation began as a joint effort by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and the Linden Police Department to look into alleged drug sales going on at the Grier Avenue location. By following initial leads, detectives ultimately determined that Hall and McGriff – both high-ranking members of the G-Shine set of the Bloods street gang active in Linden, Elizabeth, Rahway, and Roselle – were being supplied by Pardo, who in turn was being supplied by Statiroudis, with each defendant claiming a cut of the drug profits.
In addition to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and the Linden Police Department, other agencies assisting in the investigation and the executing of search warrants included the Berkeley Heights Police Department, Bloomfield Police Department, Clark Police Department, Elizabeth Police Department, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police TEAMS (Tactical Emergency and Missions Specialists), Newark Police Department, Rahway Police Department, Roselle Police Department, Roselle Park Police Department, Union Township Police Department, Union County UCERT, Union County Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office, and the Westfield Police Department.
“This investigation initially marked an effort to work with the Linden Police Department to remove what had become a thorn in the side of that community,” acting Prosecutor Park said Monday. “Yet it ultimately developed into a wide-reaching operation involving a dozen jurisdictions working together to dismantle a multi-tiered distribution ring that essentially served as a ‘one-stop shop’ for illegal drugs being sold throughout the county. We could not be prouder of the dedication of the investigators who worked on this case and the extraordinary degree of cooperation they exhibited.”
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.