Police & Fire

2 Somerset Residents Among 18 Caught up in Operation 'Up in Smoke'

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Frank Quezada, aka: “Smoke” Credits: Courtesy of Somerset County Prosecutor's Office
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Ricky Van Ness Credits: Courtesy of Somerset County Prosecutor's Office
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Nancy Henriquez-Leon Credits: Courtesy of Somerset County Prosecutor's Office
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Lori Jinotti Credits: Courtesy of Somerset County Prosecutor's Office
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SOMERVILLE, NJ - A seven-month investigation led to the seizure of over $100,000 in cash and controlled dangerous substances, and arrests that included two Somerset residents in a law-enforcement operation called "Up in Smoke," according to police. 

The investigation included law enforcement officials from Somerset and Middlesex Counties. 

"The investigation resulted in the seizure of approximately 370 grams of raw heroin, 2 pounds of marijuana, approximately 1,300 bags of heroin, approximately 44 grams of cocaine, 20 individually wrapped bags of crack cocaine, a hydraulic kilo-press and other drug manufacturing equipment," Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson said in a statement. 

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Michael Faligiano, age 40, and Jennifer Gallo, age 29, were among 14 individuals charged with 3rd-degree conspiracy and 3rd-degree attempt to possess CDS, according to police. 

Robertson, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor, Franklin Township Chief of Police Lawrence Roberts, and Piscataway Township Chief of Police Scott L. Cartmell announced the following arrest, in a police statement:

  • Frank Quezada, aka: “Smoke”, age 38, Forest Drive, Piscataway Township, New Jersey
  • Lori Jinotti, age 36, S. Randolphville Road, Piscataway Township, New Jersey
  • Ricky Van Ness, age 40, Winder Drive, Bridgewater Township, New Jersey
  • Nancy Henriquez-Leon, age 27, Harmony Street, Piscataway Township, New Jersey

The arrests occurred between May 23 and May 26 following a seven-month investigation regarding the distribution of heroin, cocaine and other controlled dangerous substances in Somerset and Middlesex counties, according to reports. 

"The success of this operation would not have been possible without the active cooperation of the municipal police departments assigned to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Organized Crime and Narcotics Task Force," Robertson said in a statement. 

During the investigation detectives located and seized approximately $71,000 in cash, a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and controlled dangerous substances with a street value of $79,000, according to officials. The substances included heroin $70,000, cocaine $3,000, and the marijuana $6,000, according to officials. 

According to police, Quezada, Jinotti, Van Ness, and Henriquez-Leon were charged with the following:

  • Defendant Quezada was charged with 2nd-degree distribution of CDS and 2nd-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS. 
  • Defendant Jinotti was charged with 2nd-degree distribution of CDS and 2nd-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS. 
  • Defendant Van Ness was charged with 1st-degree maintaining/operating a CDS manufacturing facility, 1st-degree possession of CDS (heroin) with the intent to distribute, 2nd-degree possession of a firearm while committing a CDS offense,  2nd-degree certain persons not to have weapons, and 2nd degree endangering. 
  • Defendant Henriquez-Leon was charged with 2nd-degree distribution of CDS.

According to police, the following individuals were all charged with 3rd-degree conspiracy and 3rd-degree attempt to possess CDS: 

  • Grant Buchanan, age 30, Chimney Rock Road, Bridgewater Township, N.J.
  • Michael Faligiano, age 40, 13th Street, Somerset section of Franklin Township, N.J.
  • Kelsey Frost, age 35, Penny Lane, Flemington, N.J.
  • Jennifer Gallo, age 29, Welshs Lane, Somerset section of Franklin Township, N.J.
  • Torin Houlihan, age 25, Starview Drive, Hillsborough Township, N.J.
  • Paul Mason, age 29, Thompson Avenue, Raritan Borough, N.J.
  • Autumn Benning, age 28, Lee Avenue, North Brunswick Township, N.J. 
  • Brad Mullen, age 36, Route 22, Whitehouse Station, N.J.
  • Ryan Murphy, age 26, Rutgers Court, Belleville, N.J.
  • Justin Nowicki, age 24, Courtes Place, Sayreville, N.J.
  • Nicole Parah, age 29, Wilson Avenue, Hamilton, N.J.
  • Franklin Perez-Guerra, age 21, Wayne Street, Perth Amboy, N.J.
  • Evan Stockwell, age 36, Downbury Court, Hillsborough Township, N.J.
  • John Verden, age 46, Tanglewood Drive, Piscataway Township, N.J.

Robertson thanked the Bound Brook Police Department, Branchburg Township Police Department, Hillsborough Township Police Department, Manville Police Department, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Piscataway Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Strike Force, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey HIDTA Group 3, for assisting in the investigation. 

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