Hard-working residents in Jersey City’s Greenville section have been frightened and angry over the area’s constant shootings, stabbings and killings, but authorities today took a major whack at the plague, cracking a major drug network.
Arrest teams formed of federal, state and city officers swept up 26 accused drug traffickers, some with ties to the Sex Money Murder set of the Bloods street gang, bringing the total in a six-month operation to 46 arrested.
The accused ringleader, 29-year-old Dempsey Collins, aka “Da” or “Demps,” of Bayview Avenue, “controlled a significant drug distribution network working in the violence-plagued Greenville section of Jersey City,” a spokesman for State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes said.
“Undercover troopers and local officers made drug purchases and conducted extensive surveillance to discern the scope, membership and hierarchy of the distribution network associated with Dempsey,” added State Police Lt. Gerald Lewis.
Nearly 20 people already had been arrested in “Operation Wetlands,” deriving from a word long associated with laced marijuana. Roughly 32 ounces of PCP, 35 bricks of heroin, a small amount of marijuana and oxycodone, four handguns and nearly $16,000 in cash were reportedly seized.
Dempsey clearly was the big target. He’s been held on $350,000 cash bail in the Hudson County Jail.
“We’ve interrupted some very prolific and violent criminal careers with these arrests, and that puts the odds back in favor of the people in the Greenville community,” Fuentes said.
Operation Wetlands partners were all part of the Violent Enterprise Source Targeting (V.E.S.T.) program, begun by the DEA to dismantle criminal organizations in New Jersey.
And although there was plenty of official-speak, the results did a good deal of the straight talking.
Under the project, “New Jersey law enforcement agencies are rowing in the same direction,” said Gerard P. McAleer, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA New Jersey Division. “Under the V.E.S.T. initiative, The multi-agency collaborative effort combined joint threat assessments, intelligence, and operations for overall success.”
“In an urban environment we are cognizant of the collateral damage caused by guns, gangs and drugs within our community,” said Hudson County Prosecutor Edward J. De Fazio.
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