Police & Fire

"Pot Brownies" Land 19-Year-Old Livingston Man in the Hands of West Orange Police Department

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — A local police officer's knowledge of CDS Marijuana Edibles, or "Pot Brownies," landed 19-year-old Leonardo Rojas of Livingston in the hands of the West Orange Police Department on Aug. 22. 

While patrolling the area of Main Street and Washington in West Orange at approximately 7 p.m. on that date, West Orange Police Officer Giovanni Loreto observed a black Volkswagen Passat with tinted windows—a violation of Safety Glass Requirements in New Jersey—and conducted a traffic stop. Later identified as Rojas, the driver was ultimately found to be in possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, suspected to be concealed inside “Pot Brownies,” as well as 20 suspected CDS Xanax pills and drug paraphernalia.

According to reporting officer Giovanni Loreto, Rojas and a female passenger identified as Juliana Collish of Livingston were coming from a friend's house in East Orange and returning home when the traffic stop was conducted.

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A check of Rojas' license revealed an outstanding warrant out of Seaside Park Police Department. Upon placing Rojas under arrest following a search of the vehicle, Loreto also confirmed an outstanding warrant for Rojas out of Livingston.

According to the officer, Rojas stated that he did not have any unpaid summonses, but had previously been arrested in violation of Drug Paraphernalia. With Rojas’ consent, the officer searched the vehicle and located a sealed, clear glass Mason jar inside the glove compartment containing two brownies, each concealed in a medium-sized clear plastic Ziploc bag.

Upon opening the Mason jar, Loreto detected a strong odor of raw Marijuana and, based on training and experience, suspected the two brownies to be CDS Marijuana Edibles, or "Pot Brownies." Despite initially denying it, Rojas eventually admitted to the officer that they were in fact "Pot Brownies."

Upon further search of the vehicle's glove compartment, the officer located an empty, orange Walgreens pill bottle in which he detected another strong odor of raw Marijuana, with the label scratched off, and containing a green, leafy residue (suspected CDS Marijuana), as well as a clear plastic Ziploc Walgreens "pill pouch" that contained 20 white pills stamped "2" on one side and "Xanax" on the other side.

Upon further investigation, according to police, Rojas later admitted that he is not prescribed "Xanax.”

The vehicle was left in Collish’s possession upon Rojas’ request and Rojas was transported to Headquarters, where he was processed and charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (a glass Mason jar used to conceal "Pot Brownies" and a Walgreens pill bottle with suspected Marijuana residue); Possession of less than 50 grams of CDS (two edible suspected CDS Marijuana "Pot Brownies"); and Possession of CDS (Xanax pills).

According to police, Collish responded to Headquarters to post bail at $300 for Rojas on the Livingston warrant. Rojas was released pending a West Orange court date of Sept. 1.

In other news, a man with confirmed outstanding warrants out of West Orange, Orange and Newark was arrested in West Orange on Aug. 24. Orange resident Damani Shakeel Weekes, 24, was familiar amongst the West Orange Special Investigations Unit as a suspected drug dealer and a wanted person.

On Aug. 24, Detective John Rolli and Lt. William Varanelli of the West Orange Police Department observed Weekes standing in front of Dillon's Bar on Freeman St., across from where his silver 2007 Infiniti M35 was parked. The two officers subsequently set up fixed surveillance in the area on Weekes and observed Weekes enter his vehicle and drive east on Freeman St.

A motor vehicle stop was conducted at Valley Rd and Freeman St., where Rolli and Varanelli said they detected a strong odor of raw marijuana emanating from Weekes’ person and the interior of his vehicle.

According to police, Weekes was placed under arrest for the outstanding warrants. A search of his vehicle revealed three “large, knotted bags” of suspected marijuana and an empty "Newport" brand cigarette pack containing a clear bag with seven bags of suspected cocaine in the center console.

Based on Rolli’s training and experience, he suspected that all the CDS (controlled dangerous substances) was packaged for distribution. According to Rolli, further search of the vehicle with the help of Patrolman Quintin DeMarco revealed eight packaged hypodermic needles in the rear driver seat magazine pocket.

Weekes was transported to Headquarters for processing. According to police, Weekes had two Newark Police Department warrants totaling $500, two Orange Police Department warrants totaling $750 and a West Orange Police Department warrant totaling $750.

Total bail was set at $2000 and Weekes was charged with the following offenses: Possession of Hypodermic Needles; Possession of Marijuana under 50 grams; Possession of Cocaine; Possession with intent to Distribute Marijuana; and Possession with intent to Distribute Cocaine.

Weekes was also issued traffic summonses for CDS in a Motor Vehicle and Suspended Driver.

Weekes posted bail and was released pending a CJP court date of Sept. 8.

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