Two Jersey Shore postal workers and an ex-con paroled less than a month ago were caught with nearly 4½ pounds of fentanyl and heroin – worth nearly $3 million on the street -- as well as dozens of guns, authorities said.
Detectives were watching as ex-con Andre Sulimenko, 56, of Barnegat, pulled his Subaru into the driveway of a Jackson home earlier this month, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
The homeowner, U.S. Postal Service employee William Woolley, emerged and approached the vehicle, then handed Sulimenko a kilo of fentanyl in a bag, he said.
State Police arrested him moments later.
Detectives then arrested Wooley, 52, during a raid at his home that turned up 18 handguns, 28 rifles and shotguns, high-capacity magazines and various firearm parts, the attorney general said.
Among the weapons seized were an assault rifle, a submachine gun and a ghost gun, which are assembled from kits that can be bought online, aren’t registered and don’t have serial numbers, “making them difficult to trace and making it harder for law enforcement to solve gun crimes,” Grewal said.
Police the following day arrested Nicholas Gooskos, 41, of Spring Lake while his was on his mail route in Neptune.
He was carrying 120 individual doses of heroin, Grewal said.
Detectives later found a kilogram of fentanyl, five rifles, one assault rifle, two shotguns, high-capacity magazines and ammunition at Gooskos’s home, the attorney general said.
“Fentanyl is one of the deadliest opioids in existence,” NJ State Police Supt. Col. Patrick J. Callahan said. “Just a few milligrams can kill an adult.
“This narcotic is not only lethal to users, sellers, law enforcement, and forensic scientists tasked with handling it,” Callahan said. “Trace amounts left on surfaces by traffickers could easily claim the lives innocent victims, including unsuspecting children.”
Although the value of a kilo of fentanyl is about $50,000, that jumps to $3 million when it’s combined with mixing ingredients and broken down into individual doses.
State Police charged Sulimenko, Wooley and Gooskos with possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl and conspiracy to distribute fentanyl.
Wooley and Gooskos also were charged with various weapons offenses.
All three remained in custody -- Woolley and Sulimenko in the Ocean County Jail and Gooskos in the Monmouth County Jail -- pending first appearances in the counties’ respective courts.
Sulimenko recently a total of nine months in separate state prison stretches in 2017 and this year for drug-related convictions, according to state Department of Corrections records.
He’s also facing charges for a burglary last year in Pennsylvania, records show.
Several agencies participated in the operation, Grewal and Callahan said.
They included several divisions of State Police – among them, the Trafficking Central Unit, Opioid Enforcement Task Force (OETF) and T.E.A.M.S., K-9 and ballistics unit – as well as the Jackson, Barnegat, Neptune City and Middletown police and the Hudson and Ocean county prosecutor’s offices.
“Undaunted by the COVID pandemic, the New Jersey State Police are working ceaselessly to protect the public,” Grewal said. “The State Police and Division of Criminal Justice will continue to collaborate with law enforcement at all levels to target these dangerous criminal elements.”
The New Jersey State Police Hazmat Unit safely processed the fentanyl because of the synthetic opioid’s lethal properties.
ALSO SEE: A gang member from Asbury Park who was paroled earlier this year after spending more than four years in state prison was carrying a loaded gun when police grabbed him on an outstanding warrant, authorities said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.