Eight people have been arrested and the equivalent of more than 4,300 bricks of heroin with an estimated street value of more than $3 million have been seized following the dismantling of two fully functional, high-volume heroin mills illegally operating in Linden and Union Township, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced during a Monday morning press conference.
Following a month-long joint investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration, search warrants were executed Friday afternoon at the two heroin mills, located on the 300 block of Richford Terrace in Linden and on the 2100 block of Morris Avenue in Union Township, as well as at additional locations on Florida Street and Seib Avenue in Elizabeth.
Raw heroin was actively being processed and prepared for street sale at the Linden location at the time the search warrants were executed. The seized heroin included more than 2,300 grams of raw, uncut heroin; more than 1,400 bricks of processed heroin, with 50 bags to each brick; and more than 13,000 additional loose bags of heroin. The combined total of all the seized narcotics amounted to approximately 5.5 kilograms of heroin.
According to the investigation, the heroin mills not only supplied wholesale-quantity amounts of narcotics to multiple counties throughout New Jersey, but also to multiple out-of-state urban areas.
Also seized at the Florida Street residence was a loaded, .40-caliber handgun with hollow-point ammunition, an extended 30-round ammunition magazine, a silencer, and a bulletproof vest. Along with narcotics, searches of the heroin mills also turned up thousands of unused folds for the packaging of drugs, plus ink pads, face masks, grinders, strainers, hundreds of grams of a cutting agent, and numerous cell phones. A 2002 GMC Envoy also was seized during the raids, and a search of the vehicle revealed a hidden trap door underneath a rear seat that opened and closed electronically; according to the investigation, the SUV was used to transport large quantities of heroin out of state for distribution.
Arrested as the result of this operation were William Camino, 35, of Elizabeth; Yakin Bryant, 34, of Elizabeth; Ricardo Gayle, 25, of Plainfield; Jasmin Sanchez, 23, of Jersey City; Arain Juarez-Alvarez, 25, of the Bronx, N.Y.; Frank Pino, 29, of Elizabeth; Lakisha Mensah, 24, of East Windsor; and Eraiadna Victoria Mentor, 23, of Linden.
Camino was charged with first-degree acting as the leader of a drug trafficking organization, first-degree racketeering, first-degree maintaining a drug manufacturing facility, first-degree possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, second-degree conspiracy, and two lesser drug offenses, with his bail set at $2 million by state Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue.
Bryant, Gayle, and Sanchez all were charged with first-degree racketeering, first-degree maintaining a drug manufacturing facility, first-degree possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, second-degree conspiracy, and related charges, with bail set at $1.5 million for Bryant and $500,000 apiece for Gayle and Sanchez.
Juarez-Alvarez, Pino, and Mensah all were charged with first-degree maintaining a drug manufacturing facility, first-degree possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, and two lesser drug offenses, with bail set at $100,000 apiece. Mentor was charged with a second-degree weapons offense and third-degree conspiracy, with bail set at $75,000.
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office would like to express deep gratitude to the various additional law-enforcement agencies that provided invaluable assistance in this investigation and in executing search warrants, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Union County Police Department, the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the Union County Emergency Response Team SWAT Unit, and the Elizabeth Police Department, Linden Police Department, and Union Police Department. Also participating in the investigation was the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Narcotics Task Force, which consists of officers from the Berkeley Heights Police Department, Clark Police Department, Roselle Pa