NJ Dealer Awaiting Trial For Shooting Detectives Gets 13 Years In Federal Drug Takedown

A manager of a major New Jersey drug ring who's awaiting trial for shooting two undercover detectives must spend 13 years in federal custody after taking a plea deal from the government in a separate case.

Juan Figueroa
Juan Figueroa Photo Credit: NJAG

Juan Figueroa, 25, was the last of 19 members of the Bloods-related group who were convicted following a federal assault on an open-air drug market in Camden that provided walkup and drive-by service to its customers.

Figueroa and two associates were also charged in state court with ambushing two Camden County Police detectives who were investigating the ring, which peddled heroin, crack, fentanyl and cocaine in the 400-500 block of Pine Street.

One detective sustained wounds to his bicep and forearm and the other was struck in her hand as they sat in an unmarked car at a traffic light at Broadway and Walnut Street in the city on Aug. 7, 2018.

One of the investigators returned fire as the assailants sped off in a van.

Alexander DeJesus and Ammar Hall took plea deals after an intense search ended with them and Figueroa in custody.

Figueroa has fought the state charges, however, while pleading guilty in the federal drug probe.

Members of the multi-layered Pine Street crew sold heroin that bore the same stamp as drugs found at the sites of overdoses in Camden, two of them fatal, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Philip R. Sellinger said.

Many of them "owned guns and were prepared to use them," Sellinger said.

The crew, in fact, had previously operated in the 1900 block of Filmore Street, the U.S. attorney said.

But law enforcement flooded the area after an innocent 50-year-old bystander was shot and killed during a turf battle in April 2017, so they shifted to Pine Street, he said.

A multi-agency probe found that ringleader Ronnie Lopez of Pennsauken funneled bulk quantities of drugs for sale "downstream" to Figueroa and other middle managers, the U.S. attorney said.

The drugs, in turn, went to shift supervisors who managed the set workers actually peddling the product on the street, Sellinger said.

FBI agents led an attack on the ring using surveillance, confidential informants, wiretaps, undercover drug buys -- even a GPS vehicle tracker, Sellinger said.

Figueroa took a deal from the feds, the same as the rest, rather than risk the outcome of a trial.

He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Camden last June to conspiring to acquire and sell narcotics, telling the judge that he worked as a middle manager supervising managers of street-level dealers, supplying them with drugs he got from the higher-ups and collecting the proceeds from them.

Like the others, Figureroa must serve out just about all of his sentence because there's no parole in the federal prison system.

He still has the shooting charges to contend with in Superior Court in Camden.

Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI’s South Jersey Violent Offender and Gang Task Force's South Jersey Resident Agency, Camden County police, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, the Camden County Sherriff’s Department, Cherry Hill police and the New Jersey State Police with the Pine Street takedown.

He also thanked the DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Department of Homeland Security for their assistance.

Securing the pleas and sentences were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara A. Aliabadi and Patrick C. Askin of his Criminal Division in Camden.

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