PATERSON, NJ – The Tuesday takedown of what New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal described as a “major opioid mill” in Paterson offered evidence, Mayor Andre Sayegh said, that “criminals don’t discriminate in terms of where they are willing to establish their illegal operations.”
The two arrests and confiscation of over 17,000 wax folds of suspected heroin and fentanyl, a stone’s throw away from Sayegh’s home also show, he added, “that no matter where the bad guys are law enforcement is on their trail.”
Sayegh described looking out his window early Tuesday morning and seeing a van pull up and armed men quickly streaming out of the back. “It was disconcerting to say the least,” Sayegh said. “The safety of my three children sound asleep in their beds,” he said when asked what his immediate thought was.
“Once it occurred to me what was happening I said a quick prayer for the brave officers that were making a charge towards an unknown danger,” Sayegh said. “They were putting themselves in harm’s way to keep the rest of us safe.”
Arrested in the operation were Rafael Brito, aka “Chiquito”, 33 and Rosanny Prado, 38. Both face up to 20 years in jail and up to $750,000 in fines.
The drugs seized, Grewal said in his statement, bore the same brand names, including “Empire”, “Panda”, and “100%” that have been linked to 18 overdoses, including 10 fatal.
“By shutting down this drug mill and preventing over 17,000 doses of suspected heroin and fentanyl from reaching our communities, we undoubtedly saved lives, particularly given the fact that we seized ink stamps bearing brand names that have been linked to at least 10 fatal overdoses,” Grewal said. “Through collaborative investigations of this type, we’re arresting the drug traffickers who callously gamble with the lives of drug users by carelessly mixing and distributing this lethal combination of opioids.”
Saying that Paterson continues to be a regional hub for opioid distribution, Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice committed that state officials will continue to work with local law enforcement to
“to disrupt this major opioid market.”
“We appreciate the cooperation of our state partners to make Paterson safer and improve the quality of life for our residents,” said Paterson Police Chief Ibrahim M. Baycora. “The sum is definitely greater than the parts when it comes to this kind of teamwork among law enforcement agencies to stop drug trafficking. We will continue to work together to protect our city and fight the opioid epidemic.”
The first-degree narcotics charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, with a fine of up to $500,000 for the possession with intent charge, and up to $750,000 for the production facility charge. The third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
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