The takedown of a massive Hudson/Essex-based drug ring that pumped out 15,000 bags a day of heroin and fentanyl a day prompted a rare public warning to drug users Thursday from state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal about which brands to avoid.
The massive drug mill was operated by three men from a luxury condo in Hudson County where authorities said they seized 32,500 individual doses and nearly nine pounds of fentanyl and heroin -- some with the same brand names linked to 84 overdose deaths in New Jersey.
“We know that our state is home to far too many people struggling with addiction,” Grewal said, in announcing the takedown. “But we ask that, no matter what challenges you’re facing in your life, if you see heroin stamped with these markings, please, please stay away from it. Your next fix could be your last."
The killer drugs were stamped "TOM BRADY" (19 fatal ODs), "NYQUIL" (12 fatal ODs) and "BLUE MAGIC" (7 fatal ODs).
FIND NAMES OF THE OTHER BRANDS in the chart above or at: www.njpublicsafety.com.
“If you encounter any of these stamps, please notify law enforcement,” he said. “Many police departments and county Prosecutors across our state allow individuals to turn in drugs and paraphernalia -- no questions asked.”
Last year in Bergen County, give people died from overdoses using the drugs stamped "TOM BRADY," "ElChapo," "Blue Magic" and "Panda," Acting County Prosecutor Dennis Calo said.
Calo repeated Grewal's promise that anyone who turns in the drugs with those stamps will not face prosecution or be questioned in any way.
The Essex County trio arrested in the takedown operated from an apartment in nearby Harrison, Grewal said.
They also kept a stash house in Secaucus where the attorney general said task force members seized $200,000 in cash, a Bentley convertible worth an estimated $400,000, and a Range Rover worth an estimated $130,000.
“We prevented countless doses of fentanyl and heroin from reaching drug users by taking down this mill,” Grewal said.
“Given that the stamps seized bear the same names as drugs linked to 84 deaths, we may have saved many lives,” he added.
A host of law enforcement agencies united under the direction of the nascent New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force to make the operation possible.
Joining the NJSP and state Division of Criminal Justice were, among others, DEA and U.S. Homeland Security agents, along with investigators from the Bergen, Passaic and Morris county prosecutor’s offices, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and Cliffside Park police.
Task force members were watching last Thursday when accused ringleader Timothy Guest, 45, of Irvington left the Harrison building at 300 Somerset Street and got into a Cadillac XTS carrying a black duffel bag filled with 7,500 folds of fentanyl, Grewal said.
When they tried to stop the car, Guest hit the gas, hitting two occupied State Police cars, he said.
300 Somerset Street, Harrison (Googlemaps)
The Caddy became disabled and Guest was arrested.
Two of his associates, William Woodley, 27, of Belleville, and Selionel Orama, 25, of Cedar Grove, were arrested as they tried to flee the building, Grewal said.
Inside, task force members found 6½ pounds of fentanyl, two pounds of heroin mixed with fentanyl, 25,000 individual doses of fentanyl and drug milling equipment -- including 29 coffee grinders, kilo presses, wax folds, and respirator masks.
They also found 43 rubber ink stamps used to stamp brands on the wax folds.
“Information obtained from police reports throughout the state indicates that 25 of those stamps bear the same brand names that have been linked to a total of 227 overdoses,” including the dozens of overdoses, Grewal said.
The case agent is Detective Jason Wiswesser of the New Jersey State Police Gangs and Organized Crime North Unit. Sgt. Miguel Holgiun participated in the investigation for the NJSP Regional Operations Intelligence Center.
The New Jersey State Police Trafficking North Unit, Hazardous Material Response Unit, Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Crime Suppression North Unit assisted.
Deputy Attorneys General Philip Mogavero and Angel Hector of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau are the lead prosecutors.
NOTE: To target the most deadly packaging facilities and other heroin and fentanyl sources of supply, and reduce overdoses and fatalities, the Opioid Enforcement Task Force works with the NJSP Regional Operations Intelligence Center. In addition to NJSP members, the Task Force is comprised of task force officers from local, county and state partners. The Task Force also works cooperatively with the DEA and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations to further its mission.
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