Law & Justice

15 Indicted, 12 from Paterson, for Heroin Operation Worth Millions

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PATERSON, NJ - Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today announced that a state grand jury has indicted the alleged ringleader and 14 other defendants on charges including first-degree racketeering for allegedly running a narcotics supply ring that distributed millions of dollars in heroin out of a number of heroin processing “mills” and stash houses in Paterson.

The indictment stems from “Operation Dismayed,” an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New York Division, conducted with assistance from the New Jersey State Police and the DEA New Jersey Division. The agencies arrested most of the defendants in November.

The Division of Criminal Justice obtained a 22-count state grand jury indictment on Friday (July 12) charging all 15 defendants with first-degree racketeering and second-degree conspiracy to maintain heroin production facilities and distribute heroin. The alleged ringleader, Segundo Garcia (aka "Moreno"), 37, of Prospect Park, is charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, a first-degree crime that carries a sentence of life in prison, including 25 years without parole. Wilfredo “Willie” Morel, 40, of Paterson, aka “Christino Morel,” allegedly worked with Garcia to obtain large quantities of heroin and exercised independent leadership control over certain members of the ring. Garcia, Morel and nine other defendants also face first-degree drug charges. The first-degree racketeering and drug charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison. It is alleged that the drug network supplied multiple kilos of heroin per week to other suppliers and large-scale dealers. The defendants generally did not sell to street-level dealers.

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The ring allegedly distributed heroin to dealers in northern New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. During the takedown of the ring in November, detectives searched 10 houses and one vehicle, seizing three kilos of bulk heroin, another kilo of heroin packaged in thousands of glassine envelopes for individual sale, and about $255,000 in cash. The bulk heroin has a “wholesale” value of more than $300,000, and could have sold for $1 million or more once cut and packaged for sale on the street.

“We’re facing an epidemic of heroin abuse, driven by young people seeking a cheaper alternative to OxyContin and the other opiate pain pills that have become the primary gateway drugs in New Jersey’s suburbs,” Hoffman said. “We allege that these defendants were cashing in on this deadly epidemic as major suppliers of heroin. We’re attacking this problem at its source through operations such as this one to take down heroin mills, as well as ongoing investigations into the diversion of prescription painkillers.” “We allege that Garcia, Morel and their associates typically moved about 2 kilograms of raw heroin per week, making this a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Working with the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, the DEA and the State Police, we have dismantled this criminal network and built a first-degree racketeering case against them.”

Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart presented the case to the state grand jury. The investigation was conducted for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice by Detective Travis Johnson, who was the lead detective, and other members of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Lt. Christopher Donohue, Sgt. Ho Chul Shin, Deputy Attorney General Taggart and Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa-Yfantis, who is Deputy Bureau Chief. The investigation was conducted for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office by its Narcotics Enforcement Bureau, with assistance from other member of the Sheriff’s Office. The investigation was conducted for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration by DEA Group D-32 with assistance from members of DEA Division 30 and DEA Newark Division. The New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section provided valuable assistance in the investigation. During the takedown in November, investigators seized 1.5 kilos of heroin, a kilo of cocaine, and packaging materials and equipment from an alleged heroin mill located on the first floor of 447 East 21st Street in Paterson. They seized an additional 1.5 kilos of heroin and $220,000 in cash from a second mill located on the first floor of 246 Maryland Avenue in Paterson. Workers clad in aprons and surgical masks allegedly worked at these and other locations to cut, process and package heroin for the network. More than $35,000 in additional cash was seized from other locations that were searched.

Garcia, a Dominican national, served more than five years in federal prison for drug dealing beginning in 2000. He was subsequently deported by federal immigration authorities, but re-entered the U.S. illegally and allegedly established his large-scale heroin distribution network in Paterson. The following is a full list of the defendants charged in the indictment:

Segundo Garcia, 37, of Prospect Park, aka “Moreno.”

Wilfredo Morel, 40, of Paterson, aka “Christino Morel.”

Carlos Gomez, 35, of Paterson.

Malcolm Haynes, 44, of Paterson.

Rigoberto Perez, 34, of Paterson.

Braulio Minaya, 27, of Paterson.

Alvin Alba, 24, of Paterson.

Randolph Breton, 35, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Leonardo Flores, 54, of Paterson.

Wendy Hernandez Taveraz, 31, of Paterson.

Manuel Almonte, 45, of Paterson.

Ramona Almonte Gonzalez, 59, of Paterson (Segundo Garcia’s mother).

Robin Vargas, 20, of Paterson.

Christopher Lee Cox, 28, of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Franchot J. Keeling, 41, of Paterson.

Gomez, Minaya, Alba, Breton, Taveraz and Vargas allegedly engaged in processing and packaging heroin for the supply network. Perez and Haynes allegedly distributed heroin on behalf of Garcia. Almonte and Flores are taxi drivers who allegedly transported members of the network and heroin to and from the various locations used by the criminal enterprise. Gonzalez, who is Garcia’s mother, allegedly assisted the enterprise by, among other things, allowing heroin to be stashed in her home. Keeling and Cox allegedly were customers of Garcia who distributed heroin in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area. They were arrested on Oct. 11, 2012 after Garcia allegedly delivered a package of heroin to Haynes at a stash house in Paterson, and Haynes in turn allegedly delivered the package to Keeling and Cox in a parking lot in Paterson. Investigators subsequently stopped the van in which Keeling and Cox were traveling on Route 80 and seized 425 “bricks” of heroin during execution of a search warrant. A brick is a bundle of about 50 small glassine envelopes of heroin, ready for individual sale. Another 65 bricks of heroin were seized from Minaya’s house on Danforth Avenue in Paterson. Garcia, Morel, Gomez, Minaya, Alba, Talveraz and Vargas face a first-degree charge of maintaining or operating a heroin production facility. In addition, Garcia, Morel, Gomez, Haynes, Breton, Vargas, Keeling and Cox face charges of first-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute. Garcia and Morel are charged with second-degree money laundering, and several other defendants are charged with third-degree money laundering.

Certain defendants face various additional second-, third- and fourth-degree charges. A copy of the indictment is posted with this release at www.njpublicsafety.com. Garcia and Morel remain in the Passaic County Jail, with bail set at $350,000 cash and $125,000 cash, respectively, with a bail source hearing required in each case. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Passaic County. The charge of leader of a narcotics trafficking network carries a sentence of life in state prison, including 25 years of parole ineligibility, and a criminal fine of up to $750,000. The charge of maintaining or operating a heroin production facility carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $750,000. The charges of first-degree racketeering and first-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, but for narcotics charges, the fine is up to $35,000. The money laundering charges carry an enhanced criminal fine of up to $500,000, and an additional anti-money laundering penalty of $250,000 for second-degree offenses and $75,000 for third-degree offenses. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

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