Nine members of a major cocaine ring operating out of Paterson have been indicted following an eight-month investigation that turned up cocaine, opiates, guns and cash, authorities said Tuesday.
Eight suspects have been identified and investigators continue to look for a ninth who cut and packaged cocaine with other suspects.
Police in New Jersey and Pennsylvania seized nearly eight kilos of cocaine, 82 fentanyl pills, a small amount of heroin, three handguns and more than $76,000 cash, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in a statement.
Officers with the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.
Grewal said three alleged top suppliers in the network are each charged with promoting organized street crime, a first-degree charge that carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison.
The three suspects, all from Paterson, were identified as:
- Jose Encarnacion, 35, who was allegedly the primary supplier in the network. He allegedly obtained cocaine in New York City and supplied it to other individuals in the network. He also faces a first-degree charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
- Adrian Mena-Acevedo, 25, allegedly obtained large quantities of cocaine from Encarnacion, which he distributed to other suppliers in the network. He also faces a first-degree charge of maintaining or operating a narcotics production facility.
- Luis Peguero-Nin, 27, allegedly obtained large quantities of cocaine from Mena-Acevedo, which he distributed to another supplier in the network and street-level dealers. He also faces first-degree charges of distributing cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and maintaining or operating a narcotics production facility.
Peguero-Nin, an alleged member of the Trinitarios, or 3NI, street gang, allegedly supplied cocaine to another alleged gang member, Jeffrey Jaquez, 27, of Passaic, who in turn allegedly supplied street-level dealers. Jaquez at times allegedly obtained cocaine directly from Mena-Acevedo.
Jaquez faces multiple first-degree counts of distribution of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
“By dismantling this supply network and locking up its members, we cut off a major source of cocaine for drug dealers in and around New Jersey’s third-largest city,” Grewal said in a statement.
“Rather than just locking up street-level dealers or low-level members of this network, we cut deep into the supply line, which is the best way to stop the flow of these destructive drugs into our communities,” Grewal said.
Others charged in the indictment were identified as:
- Juan Ruiz-Montano, 37, of Bronx, N.Y., who was arrested on Dec. 12, 2017. Investigators executed a search warrant and found six kilos of cocaine, a scale, and $4,500 in a hidden compartment. Ruiz-Montano is charged with first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
- Two people who allegedly worked directly for Mena-Acevedo, identified as his girlfriend, Emily Aracena-Freijomil, 24, of Paterson, and Juan Duran, 23, of Paterson. The two allegedly cut and packaged cocaine and sold drugs at the direction of Mena-Acevedo. Mena-Acevedo and Aracena-Freijomil, who lived together on 20th Avenue in Paterson, are each charged with first-degree maintaining or operating a narcotics production facility. Duran faces one count of second-degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He is the only defendant who does not face a first-degree charge.
- Two people who allegedly worked for Peguero-Nin and allegedly sold drugs at his direction: Chamil Polanco, 24 of Paterson, N.J., and a second man known by the nickname “Gingo” who remains unidentified. Peguero-Nin, Polanco and Gingo allegedly cut and packaged narcotics for distribution at an apartment they shared on Pearl Street in Paterson. When investigators executed a search warrant at the apartment on December 12, 2017, they seized three handguns, an illegal large-capacity magazine, hollow point bullets, other ammunition, a small quantity of cocaine, 82 pills containing fentanyl, and heroin in various stages of packaging. Peguero-Nin, Polanco and Gingo are each charged with first-degree maintaining or operating a narcotics production facility, various second- and third-degree drug offenses, and second-degree possession of a firearm during commission of a drug offense, among other charges.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County.
The judge assigned the case to Passaic County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment on the charges.