TRENTON – A drug seizure on Route 78 last August has led to a 10-year prison sentence for a California man, New Jersey’s Attorney General announced today.
The seizure by State Police in Warren County included more than 140 pounds of heroin and 22 pounds of cocaine from a tractor-trailer driven by Henry A. Cruz Ventura, 40, of Los Angeles, according to the press release from Christopher S. Porrino.
The seizure by the State Police Mobile Safe Freight Unit ranks as one of the largest seizures of heroin by law enforcement in U.S. history, Porrino said.
Ventura was sentenced to state prison Friday by Superior Court Judge H. Matthew Curry in Warren County. Ventura pleaded guilty on May 5 to a charge of first-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute. Ventura had been held in the Warren County Jail since his arrest on Aug. 23, with bail set at $250,000.
Deputy Attorney General Norma Garcia prosecuted the case and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
The heroin seized from Ventura’s tractor-trailer “could have generated several million doses of heroin once cut and packaged for distribution,” said Porrino. “Thanks to the vigilance of Trooper James ‘Bucky’ Agens, this deadly cargo never reached the streets of our communities, and undoubtedly lives were saved that would have been lost to overdoses,” he added in the statement. “This sentence keeps Ventura in prison where he belongs.”
“Seizures on this scale have a major and immediate impact in cutting off the supply line of these deadly and corrosive drugs,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to target large-scale heroin traffickers as well as those who run the pill mills that are fueling addiction by illegally supplying the black market for prescription opiates.”
“The positive effects of a narcotics seizure of this magnitude can be measured in a variety of ways, which include a reduction in violence associated with dealing, the disruption of a major trafficking network, and almost certainly a life being saved,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, State Police Superintendent.
Ventura was arrested after a member of the State Police Mobile Safe Freight Unit stopped his tractor-trailer in Greenwich Township to conduct a routine commercial vehicle safety inspection. Agens noted suspicious behavior by Ventura and irregularities regarding the tractor-trailer and its cargo.
Agens and Sgt. First Class Ronald Mistretta, who responded to assist, had the rig moved to the Greenwich Weigh Station, where they obtained consent to search it. When they opened four boxes that were inconsistent with the legitimate cargo listed in the shipping manifest, they found the drugs.