Leaders of multimillion-dollar heroin ring plead guilty

The top two leaders of a criminal enterprise caught with millions of dollars’ worth of heroin nearly three years ago have pleaded guilty in the case, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Monday.

William Camino, 38, and his second-in-command, Yakin “Yaya” Bryant, 37, both have admitted to charges of first-degree racketeering and first-degree possession of heroin with the intent to distribute. 

Camino, Bryant, and 13 others were arrested in late 2014, when a Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force investigation resulted in the seizure of heroin with an estimated street value of more than $3 million and the outright dismantling of two fully functional, high-volume heroin mills illegally operating in Linden and Union Township, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Jeremiah Lenihan, who prosecuted the case.

Additional drugs were seized at two locations in Elizabeth, Lenihan said. In all, investigators collected a total of approximately 5.5 kilograms of raw and processed heroin, including 2,100 packaged bricks.

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 as a result of the investigation were a loaded, .40-caliber handgun with hollow-point ammunition, an extended 30-round ammunition magazine, a silencer, and a bulletproof vest.

Assisting in the investigation and the execution of search warrants in this case were 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, Linden, and Union police departments.

Sentencing for Camino and Bryant has been scheduled for Friday, October 20, 2017 before state Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch. At that time the State will recommend that the defendants receive sentences of 15 and 12 years in state prison, respectively, with 85 percent of both terms to be served before the possibility of parole. Eleven other defendants in this matter have already pleaded guilty and have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing.