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Monmouth Prosecutor's Office Busts Multimillion-Dollar Heroin Ring

Charges brought against 52; Monmouth and Ocean residents among those arrested.

A massive sweep of a multimillion-dollar heroin ring led to charges against 52 people, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni announced during a press conference in Freehold on Monday.

The arrests marked the culmination of an eight-month long investigation, titled Operation Hats Off, which began last spring after the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) received information regarding gang activity and heroin distribution in the Shore area. Gramiccioni said the prosecutor’s office would continue to aggressively pursue drug distribution in the county.

“This isn’t going to happen in my county. Don’t bring it into Monmouth because we’re going to find you. We have eyes and ears across the county,” Gramiccioni said. “The people that are inclined to commit these crimes should know about it. We’re going to find you, we’re going to arrest you and we’re going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

Operation Hats Off targeted members of the Fruit Town Brims, a subset of the Bloods street gang, and their affiliates, who prosecutors allege were responsible for selling approximately 200 bricks of heroin per week. Gramiccioni estimated the street value of the heroin trafficked during the investigation exceeded $2 million.

The 52 individuals arrested included three primary suppliers, who arranged for the purchase and transportation of the heroin out of Essex County. Prosecutors allege the primary suppliers of the heroin were Hassain Jenkins, 39, of Orange; Roger Barber, 40, of Newark; and Louis Pennington, 29, of Long Branch.

Mid-level suppliers, including alleged ringleaders Ronald Daniels Jr., 23, of Long Branch and Anna Flores, 21, of Highlands, conspired to distribute the heroin throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties, according to Gramiccioni.

Other alleged mid-level suppliers include: Christopher Moon, 21, of Highlands; Ezra Strong, 22, of Long Branch; Donte Gilliard, 22, of Long Branch; Dashawn Graves, 20, of Newark; Damier Johnson, 22, of Long Branch; and Hakeem Wadud, 22, of Paterson.

The remainder of those charged were allegedly repeat buyers, Gramiccioni said. These buyers included residents of Atlantic Highlands, Bayville, Eatontown, Little Silver, Long Branch, Neptune, Oceanport, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright and West Long Branch.

“Heroin is pervasive throughout all walks of society. It doesn’t discriminate with regard to age, sex, race or ethnicity, or anyone’s level of affluence or socioeconomic status. It’s poisoning our communities,” Gramiccioni said.

MCPO Chief of Detectives Michael Pasterchick noted that the purity of heroin sold in New Jersey makes it especially addictive.

“We all know that this drug enslaves its users. Of those who become addicted to heroin, only 20 percent will go on to lead productive lives,” Pasterchick said. “We need to get this message out about the perils of heroin abuse.”

Weapons, Heroin Seized

During the course of the investigation, officers seized significant amounts of heroin, cash and firearms.

On Monday, Nov. 19, law enforcement officers recovered approximately 100 bricks of heroin from an automobile in Eatontown during a routine vehicle stop, according to a press release issued by the MCPO.

On Thursday, Dec. 13, law enforcement officers stopped Jenkins and Barber on the eastbound side of Route 36 in Tinton Falls.  During that stop, officers recovered two packages, each containing 100 bricks of heroin. Jenkins and Barber were charged with narcotics-related offenses and remain incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) in lieu of bail.

Officers raided an Atlantic Avenue apartment in Long Branch on Thursday, Dec. 13. While executing the search warrant, officers recovered 130 bricks of heroin valued at $130,000, as well as $10,000 cash, according to the press release. Three individuals at the residence - Michael Marshall, 62 of Long Branch; Tau Kamau, a.k. “Kevin Smith,” 40, of Long Branch; and Ronald Daniels, Sr., 42, of Long Branch – were charged with narcotics-related offenses and also remain incarcerated at MCCI. 

Searches simultaneously executed on Monday at residences located at Rustic Drive in Ocean Township and Fourth Street in Highlands resulted in the seizure of additional quantities of narcotics, firearms and cash.

Of the 52 individuals charged (please see full list of names on attached documents), 41 have been arrested and 11 remain at large.

Xavier December 18, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Lots of smiling faces.
Liza December 18, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Lisa, what do the buyers look like and what do the sellers look like?
Robert Yates December 18, 2012 at 04:24 PM
I hate to break it to you all, but this is a minor hick-up in the grand scheme of drug use and distribution in NJ and I am sure it cost the tax payers dearly. As long as there is a demand for drugs, there will be a supply. Statistically, the war on drugs has been a complete failure sapping billions and billions of dollars from broke tax payers with no discernible decrease in the level of drug use in America. Also, while I do sympathize with anyone who is addicted to anything (including many legal drugs), it is nonetheless a fact that no drug dealer forces a drug user to buy drugs. It is a voluntary transaction that the buyers must take responsibility for. Dealers are not killing anybody; users are killing themselves. And the fact that this transaction is illegal (hence resulting in illicit trafficking) is killing tens if not hundreds of thousands of people per year. Maybe if we did not spend so much money on enforcement prosecution and imprisonment, we could spend a little more money illustrating the detriments and destruction of drug use. If there is no demand, the dealers will go away on their own accord.
Tom tom December 18, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Lisa, please explain what the "Sellers" look like versus the "Buyers". Are you a "Buyer" Lisa?
Tom tom December 18, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Robert, you are absolutely correct with regards to the war on drugs. Without "Buyers" the "Sellers" would be a non-factor.
a213 December 18, 2012 at 06:33 PM
This is sad cause half the buyers I went to high school with. Our high school had a lot of problems we would have drug dealers come to the corners of school and sell this crap and our principal knew about it but never did anything about it because he didn't want to ruin the "reputation" of the school. When a person got caught the principal would kick them out, not help and send them to another school like the annex or Neptune. So far two kids in my grade died of overdoses. A lot of these kids got introduced to drugs at the high school. At least they got caught and havn't overdosed hopefully they get the help they need.
Big Whitey December 18, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Well said Robert.
Mr. Reason December 18, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Is it really necessary to show the photos of the addicts??? Public humiliation, a clear 8th amendment violation. I hope they get good representation.
Keeping whats mine December 18, 2012 at 11:02 PM
You can bet they were all watched, video taped and recorded for months prior to being busted. Im sure plenty of evidence against each one of them. So i say put the pics up for all to see. I only feel bad for their good family members. Dumb ass' dont watch any tv?
suz December 18, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Sorry to somewhat disagree...I personally do not care if they publish their photos. These "addicts" are the very people that break into your home, rob your car, mug your kids on the streets, steal from local businesses...all for a buck to pay for drugs. They are just as guilty, no?
fed up December 18, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Yes. You are 100% right suz.
Xavier December 19, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Publishing the photo of the arrested is well within the law. Ocean Country law enforcement no longer publishes photos at the request of the OC prosecutor's office. Monmouth County obviously does it differently.
Just Me December 19, 2012 at 04:06 AM
The sad part about this is I know 90% of the mid level people from school and they were not always like this. They are all good people with children. Gangsters??? Not really they are people just like us just making their money other ways. None of them have chargers for robbery or theift which shows their not the people you think would make their money this way. And as far as the buyers i know one of them and she has children that may have not known this is what she was doing and i feel horrible knowing her kids had to possibly find out about a habit this way. Today is a sad day in Long Branch.
Mr. Reason December 19, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Publishing photos and addresses(!) of people who are innocent until proven guilty of first offences that are normally plea bargained down to misdemeanors? This is an overzealous prosecutor who at a minimum should be reprimanded. He may have really botched this one.
Slippery Slope December 19, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Where is Lindsay Lohan's picture? Did she miss out on this party?
John Doe December 19, 2012 at 02:24 PM
yall dont even know them foh , free the BRANCH !!!!
John Doe December 19, 2012 at 02:26 PM
UNA
Get Real December 19, 2012 at 04:28 PM
"The buyers should be in treatment." What makes you think some haven't been in treatment and given other chances?? How many rehabs and chances do you give them? Mabe jail time is what they need.
DSP December 19, 2012 at 08:01 PM
The funniest thing it usto be the other way around the whte men usto be on the top and the blacks were the buyers it was ok then but now that it the other way around its an EPIDEMIC Im not prejudice but its a SHAME WHEN YOU SEE FATHER MOTHER & KIDS INVOLVED GOINGING INTO METHADONE FACILITIES FOR TREATMENT. If you really knew why they brought heroin in back 70 to 80 yrs ago ALL I CAN SAY TO THE ANCESTORS OF THESE PEOPLE IS........ KARMA
WMS826 December 19, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Death penalty to all sellers and this will end.
Danny December 19, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Could you imagine if you gave the "Death Penalty" to all the lying politicians who run the Country, Towns, Schools. It would end all the problems in the world today. Maybe then this Country, Towns and Schools would turn around. Until then the nonsense will continue.
John Doe December 19, 2012 at 10:30 PM
FREE THE BRANCH !!!!!!!!
John Doe December 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM
YOU JUST MAD BECAUSE THEY SEEN MORE MONEY THAN YOU COULD EVEN IMAGINE FOH RATCHET SLORE
Understand December 20, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Many people keep saying send the buyers to rehab, but many of the "buyers" were low level sellers as well. Who do you think brought the drugs to a party or gave it to a friend? The supposed "buyers" deserve just as much prosecution.
Locked up n they won't let me out lmao akon December 20, 2012 at 04:55 AM
I'm sorry I know two of the girls in the picture n it's so pathetic because their buyers n trying to become nurses probably to steal the patients meds n to work high taking care of people's lives smh what a damn shame .....Ande good luck to the lawyers who represent these fools because after a 8 month investigation where the sellers sold to undercover cops and probably set a bug to listen in on everything ..... N n pictures taking for 8 months .... Yeah that's fine police work god bless n thanks for making surrounding towns safer
Locked up n they won't let me out lmao akon December 20, 2012 at 05:08 AM
This is why u need education children cause idiots always gets caught ... Bragg about that tax free money now when u sit in jail n have to pay your bail ... It's always cool to act invinsible a tough n off a rap video when u have guns n destroying other people's lives but there's someone always above you so your not invinsible your not a boss if you have to look back to make sure noones watching .... Again the law enforcement did a fine job n hope repeat buyers n sellers with guns n harming the public n my own families life's either being high or shooting a stray bullet enjoy Christmas behind bars n snitches get stitches lol merry Christmas delinquents
Get Real December 20, 2012 at 05:27 PM
i agree with you when it comes to the buyers. Some of the buyers have been in trouble with the law and have gone to rehab before. (prob just to avoid jail time).
Kurt December 22, 2012 at 08:06 AM
Like sweeping up the trash. Hey more brothers off the street. Those top and mid levels have a common aspect and it isn't wanted or needed American citizens that we need or want around. Load them up into their holding cells and let the population take care of them so we can stop wasting tax money feeding them food and air.
Xavier December 27, 2012 at 08:56 PM
"Publishing photos and addresses(!) of people who are innocent until proven guilty of first offences that are normally plea bargained down to misdemeanors?" Yes. Totally legal.
HavinFun March 16, 2013 at 01:28 PM
It sounds like none of y'all have know Wat its like ur lucky n that's awesome that yal e clean but its not always black n white with the buyers anymore,I agree put away the sellers they have to go!¡!¡! For our kids to b safe n grow up having fun playing sports n having fun wit friends not selling n buying drugs,it seems like that's all that's goin on anymore

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