Drug kingpin, second-in-command sentenced

The top two leaders of a criminal enterprise caught with millions of dollars’ worth of heroin nearly three years ago have been sentenced to a combined total of 26 years in state prison for their crimes, acting Union County Prosecutor Thomas K. Isenhour announced Monday.

State Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch on Friday sentenced 38-year-old William Camino to a term of 15 years, while earlier last week 37-year-old Yakin “Yaya” Bryant was sentenced to 11 years. Both defendants will be required to serve at least 85 percent of those terms before the possibility of parole under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act.

Camino, Bryant, and a dozen others were arrested in late 2014, when a Prosecutor’s Office’s 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 of heroin comprised of more than 100,000 individual folds.

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 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.

Camino and Bryant earlier this year admitted to charges of first-degree racketeering and first-degree possession of heroin with the intent to distribute. Twelve other defendants in this matter have already pleaded guilty and have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing.