PATERSON, NJ - A collaborative effort between state and local law enforcement authorities has dealt a blow to the Paterson drug trade, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced on Thursday.
According to a statement the investigation, known as Operation 4K, focused on a heroin and fentanyl distribution network allegedly led by Kashard Whitaker. 41, Paterson. In their report Grewal states that Whitaker “commanded a ring of suppliers and street-level distributors, including two opioid mills located at 25 Kent Village and 169 Grand Street and operated by Miguel Guerrero-Santana, 29, and Carlos Nunez, 32, both also of Paterson.
The mills, said to be supplying Kashard with 25,000 - 30,000 wax folds of heroin and fentanyl per week were raided on Friday, August 2, leading to the seizure of 27,000 doses of heroin, one kilo of bulk heroin, 400 grams of fentanyl, 152 grams of cocaine, and almost 21 grams of methamphetamine. Nearly $60,000 in cash as well as equipment and material used to process and package drugs were also confiscated.
Saying that the operation “undoubtedly saved lives,” Grewal added that in the mills “drug dealers- not chemists - imprecisely mixed heroin and other agents with fentanyl to produce uper-potent doses,” something he equated to “a form of Russian roulette.”
The drugs seized in the operation, as well as in a second one in Trenton that also led to the seizure of 22 guns, and an additional 18 arrests, Grewal said, have already been linked to at least 57 overdoses, 26 of them fatal.
While a number of factors, including location, have made Paterson a center for heroin distribution across the region, law enforcement is doing everything they can to cut off major sources of the drugs and bring traffickers to justice, Paterson Police Chief Troy Oswald said.
“The challenges we face to protect our residents and address the devastating opioid epidemic demand the type of teamwork and sharing of resources reflecting in this outstanding operation,” Oswald continued.
"For too long Paterson has been on the map as a destination for drugs, and as a haven for those who disregard life, making this poison available to those vulnerable to addiction," Mayor Andre Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson. "We are committed to changing that, and it is only through collaborative efforts and an understanding that our problems are the region's problems, that we will be successful."
"This operation and these arrests represent a major win for the good guys."
Also charged with various crimes related to the drugs distribution network were:
Shakeem Browning, 34
McCoy Whitaker, 62
Emmanuel Ortiz, 38
Escarlin Rivas, 35
Regin Rivas, 36
Yakgsenei Rivas-Pena, 33
Albert Whitaker, 64
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