The reputed leader of a Bloods set and nine alleged associates were charged with running a drug distribution ring in Paterson after authorities smashed two sophisticated opioid mills that put tens of thousands of heroin and fentanyl doses on the street each week.
Authorities seized 27,000 individual doses of heroin, more than two pounds of the drug, nearly a pound of fentanyl and $60,000 in alleged proceeds.
Kashard Whitaker, a 41-year-old founding member and leader of the 4K Boyz set of the Bloods street gang, “commanded a ring of suppliers and street-level distributors,” state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
They sold brands of heroin that were linked to 16 fatal overdoses for which authorities will be seeking to file charges of strict liability for a drug-induced death against the suppliers, the attorney general said.
(The chart above lists the individual brand names of the heroin being sold.)
Whitaker bought 25,000 to 30,000 wax folds of heroin and fentanyl a week, primarily from Miguel Guerrero-Santana, 29, who operated an 11th Avenue drug mill in Kent Village that was raided, Grewal said.
Also smashed in “Operation 4K Boyz” was an opioid mill on Grand Street that authorities said was operated by 32-year-old Carlos Nunez, supplying drugs that Whitaker’s crew sold, he said.
“In those mills, drug dealers – not chemists – imprecisely mixed heroin and other agents with fentanyl to produce super-potent doses, engaging in a form of Russian roulette with users across the region,” the attorney general said.
“Both mills were major operations where drug dealers mixed fentanyl and heroin with cutting agents using coffee grinders, while wearing latex gloves and masks, and then packaged heroin laced with fentanyl into individual-dose wax folds,” he said.
In addition to the heroin, fentanyl and cash, members of the state Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau North Team and the Paterson Police Department -- assisted by the DEA and Homeland Security Investigations – also seized more than five ounces of cocaine, a small amount of meth, and processing and packaging materials.
Besides Whitaker, Guerrero-Santana and Nunez, authorities busted Shakeem Browning, who Grewal described as a mid-level distributor who reported to Whitaker.
They also arrested Whitaker’s uncle, McCoy Whitaker, who is accused of being a drug runner.
Handling the case for the state are Deputy Attorney General Matthew Lafargue, with assistance from Deputy Attorney General Amy Sieminski.
The defendants, all from Paterson:
- Kashard Whitaker, 41;
- Shakeem Browning, 34;
- Miguel Guerrero-Santana, 29;
- Carlos Nunez, 32;
- McCoy Whitaker, 62;
- Enmanuel Ortiz, 38;
- Escarlin Rivas, 35;
- Regin Rivas, 36;
- Yakgsenei Rivas-Pena, 33;
- Albert Whitaker, 64.
Whitaker, Guerrero-Santana, Nunez, and Rivas-Pena were ordered detained in jail pending trial. State authorities were asking a judge to do the same with Browning.
The rest were released with conditions pending further court action.
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