On May 8, members of the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force, along with members of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Narcotics Task Force, and the Newark Police Department conducted a surveillance operation within Lou Costello Park in Paterson, in an effort to identify and arrest individuals who were distributing and purchasing Synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana also goes by the street names of “K2” and “Spice.”

In late April several individuals were observed having a negative reaction to ingesting synthetic marijuana within the surrounding area of Newark’s Pennsylvania Station and within the last week, there were approximately 70 non-fatal overdoses on synthetic marijuana that had occurred in Newark over the course of two days.

As a result of information received, an investigation was initiated by the Newark Police Department and the Essex County Narcotics Task Force. It was believed that individuals would obtain the Synthetic Marijuana from within Lou Costello Park in Paterson and then transport it to the City of Newark for distribution within the area of Pennsylvania Station.

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The ensuing investigation resulted in the following individuals being arrested for possession of synthetic marijuana, a fourth degree crime: 

  • James Ward, 42, of Woodland Park
  • Aaron Alexander, 34, of Paterson
  • Melvin J. King, 45, of Newark
  • Germaine J. Ali, 41, of Paterson
  • Victor Tafirenyika, 32, of Paterson

In addition, the following individuals were charged with possession and distribution of synthetic marijuana, crimes of the third and fourth degree:

  • Richard McKinnis, 34, of Newark
  • Luis E. Percyruiz, 26, of East Rutherford
  • Chico E. Stevens, 40, of Paterson

All those arrested were charged by way of complaint-warrants. Motions for pre-trial detention were filed by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office against defendants Melvin J. King, Germaine J. Ali, Luis E. Percyruiz and Chico E. Stevens. The pre-trial detention hearings are scheduled to be heard by the Honorable Donna Gallucio, J.S.C., at the Passaic County Superior Court, on May 12. The remaining defendants have been released by the court and have had their cases referred to the grand jury for further action.

The third-degree charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and fourth-degree charges carry a maximum of 18 months in jail.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. Despite these accusations, these defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.