CAMDEN, NJ — A Philadelphia-based ring that allegedly trafficked more than 30 guns and thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine into Camden was recently brought down, state and county officials announced Monday during a press conference.
Among the guns seized was an AK-47, which was reportedly used in two shootings last October: two-year-old Nikolette Rivera and 11-month-old Yazeem Jenkins.
“Interdicting illegal firearms and eliminating gun violence is our agency’s number one priority in the city,” said Camden Police Chief Joe Wysocki. “These weapons create chaos and undermine the stability of our neighborhoods. I want to thank our federal and state law enforcement partners for getting these weapons off our streets, as a result of ‘Operation Zombie,’ and look forward to working and sharing data in the new Philadelphia-Camden Gun Trafficking Initiative.”
NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro were joined by Camden authorities, to announce the takedown at the Camden County Police Department.
“I am incredibly proud to be part of a collaborative law enforcement effort that removed over 30 guns from our streets, including several linked to violence in our region, as well as large quantities of meth,” said Grewal.
“Operation Zombie” - named after the alleged ringleader of the group, 32-year-old Robert “Zombie” Crosley - took nine months and involved detectives from both sides of the Delaware River. The operation recovered 36 guns, three partial sticks of dynamite, and an estimated $45,000 worth of methamphetamine - including other contraband such as heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana.
Officials said they estimated the drugs involved equated to roughly 14,000 individual doses.
“By working together to dismantle rings like this one, we are saving lives and improving the safety of all our communities. And by expanding our interstate collaborations, we can build on today’s efforts to further tackle the iron pipeline of illegal guns,” added Grewal. “Four out of five crime guns in New Jersey originate in states with weaker gun laws, with the largest number coming from Pennsylvania, and we’re going to keep working together to arrest the traffickers who put our residents and our law enforcement officers at risk.”
Crosley, who was arrested last Wednesday in Camden, for allegedly trying to sell weapons, methamphetamine, and hollow-point bullets to an undercover officer. According to authorities, he was in possession of an AR-15 rifle, a large-capacity magazine, and three shotguns - including a sawed-off shotgun, two handguns and illegal hollow-nose bullets. Crosley was also reportedly in possession of four ounces of methamphetamine.
Among the other arrestees - all of whom are from Philadelphia - were 38-year-old Matthew Zoba, 33-year-old Victoria Zopf, 44-year-old Michael Snyder and 39-year-old Yuri Lyubinskiy.
Zoba, who was reportedly Zipf’s boyfriend, managed the drug trafficking ring was his girlfriend, “acted as a straw purchaser and assisted in gun and drug sales,” authorities said.
Snyder allegedly also acted as a straw purchaser and Lyubinskiy, who reportedly assisted in gun and drug sales, were both charged by complaint-warrant and have yet to be arrested.
“Law enforcement collaboration was the key to this successful operation,” said Shapiro. “By working together and sharing intelligence, we took 36 guns off the streets and make our communities safer. But this is just the start. Thanks to our new partnership, we will more effectively shut down crime gun pipelines and get firearms out of the hands of criminals who want to do harm.”
A 9mm handgun, which was allegedly also sold by the ring, was also linked to a September 2019 shooting in Philadelphia in which no one was hurt.
Crosley and Zoba were also charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime, first-degree distribution of methamphetamine and second-degree possession of a gun by a convicted felon.
“Zoba allegedly dealt powder and crack cocaine, in addition to the methamphetamine,” said the authorities in a report. “All the defendants are [also] charged with second-degree conspiracy in connection with the gun trafficking and second-degree transporting firearms into the state for illegal sale or transfer.”
Zoba was also charged with third-degree distribution of cocaine and third-degree possession of cocaine.
All the individuals allegedly involved were charged with fourth-degree unlawful disposition of a handgun. And all defendants, except for Zipf, were charged with second-degree conspiracy in connection with the drug trafficking. Snyder was also charged with second-degree distribution of methamphetamine, and third-degree possession of methamphetamine - with Zoba and Crosley also sharing the latter charge.
In regard to weapons offenses, the charges are as follows: second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun (Crosley, Zoba, Snyder, Zipf); third-degree unlawful possession of a rifle (Crosley, Lyubinskiy, Snyder); fourth-degree unlawful disposition of a rifle (Crosley, Lyubinskiy, Snyder).
Crosley was also charged with fourth-degree unlawful possession and fourth-degree unlawful disposition of a large-capacity magazine and Zoba faces the following weapons charges: fourth-degree unlawful possession and fourth-degree unlawful disposition of hollow-nose bullets.
Camden’s resident DEA New Jersey Division and ATF Newark Field Division offices were involved in the operation.