Two men have been arrested and large quantities of heroin, marijuana, and cash seized as the result of an intensive investigation into illicit drug sales in the Elizabeth area, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.
Arrested Wednesday evening were 26-year-old Alexander Gomez of Dehart Place in Elizabeth and Lonnie Rios, 36, of Pennsy Place in Newark.
A Union County Prosecutor’s Office Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force investigation first led to Gomez being pulled over in Elizabeth at approximately 6:15 p.m. Wednesday evening. Following a search of his vehicle, approximately one kilogram of heroin and two pounds of marijuana were seized, and Gomez was placed under arrest.
Later in the evening, a vehicle being driven by Rios was stopped, and after obtaining search warrants for his home, approximately 300 grams of heroin, four pounds of marijuana, and more than $11,600 in cash were seized there.
Assisting in the investigation and in making the arrests were members of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Elizabeth Police Department, the Union County Police Department, and the Union Township Police Department. Wednesday’s arrests marked the Prosecutor’s Office’s largest seizure of heroin since November 2014, when eight people were arrested and more than 5.5 kilograms of heroin seized following the dismantling of two fully functional heroin mills in Linden and Union Township; the Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force also spearheaded that investigation.
Gomez and Rios both were charged with first-degree possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, plus three second-degree drug offenses, three third-degree drug offenses, and a fourth-degree charge. Each defendant was lodged in Union County Jail on $200,000 bail.
First-degree criminal charges typically carry penalties of 10 to 20 years in state prison.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.