|ATLANTIC CITY – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that members of the Atlantic City Task Force and federal agents of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) have arrested three alleged heroin traffickers from New York City and seized 3 ½ kilos of heroin.
The following men were arrested Thursday, June 15, in Atlantic City, by members of the Atlantic City Task Force (ACTF) and federal agents of HSI on charges of first-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute, second-degree conspiracy to distribute heroin, second-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute within 500 feet of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, and third-degree heroin possession:
- Steven Rodriguez, 22, of Queens, N.Y.,
- Edwin Gomez, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and
- Steven Torres, 24, of Brooklyn, N.Y.
An investigation by the partnering agencies revealed that a drug trafficking organization was transporting heroin from Mexico to the New York City area, and subsequently trafficking large quantities of heroin into Atlantic City. Through the investigation, the agencies developed information that the defendants would be delivering a large amount of heroin to a location on the beach block of Saint James Place. When the three men arrived in a parking lot on the street about 1 p.m. on June 15, they were immediately placed under arrest. Approximately 3 ½ kilograms of heroin, wrapped in plastic bags, were seized from the vehicle. The heroin appears to have been laced with fentanyl.
The ACTF includes the Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey State Police, State Parole Board, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, Atlantic City Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Little Egg Harbor Township Police, Brigantine Police and Pleasantville Police. The task force frequently partners with HSI Cherry Hill, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“The heroin seized in this case has a value of nearly $300,000 if sold in bulk, and could have been cut, packaged, and sold on the street for upwards of $1 million,” said Attorney General Porrino. “By putting these alleged heroin traffickers in prison, the Atlantic City Task Force and HSI cut off a major supply line of heroin into Atlantic City and rescued lives that might have been lost to this poison.”
“The Atlantic City Task Force and its federal partners continue to put major drug dealers in prison and reduce the flow of narcotics fueling addiction and gun violence in the Atlantic City area,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “The proactive investigative efforts of the Task Force and HSI have snared three alleged members of a drug trafficking organization with ties to Mexico.”
“The seizure of such a large quantity of heroin from an international trafficking network substantially cripples a major pipeline into Atlantic City and surrounding areas,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to work with our local and federal partners to target drug dealers and put them behind bars.”
All three defendants were lodged in the Atlantic County Jail, where they are awaiting detention hearings.
Deputy Attorney General James Ruberton of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau is assigned to prosecute the defendants for the Atlantic City Task Force. Attorney General Porrino commended all of the members of the Atlantic City Task Force who worked on the investigation, as well as the special agents of the HSI Cherry Hill Office, under the supervision of Group Supervisor John Fitch. Detective Thomas McAnney of the Little Egg Harbor Police Department was the lead detective on the case for the Atlantic City Task Force, under the supervision of Detective Sgt. Ephraim Santiago of the New Jersey State Police.
The first-degree drug charge carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while the third-degree charge carries a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $75,000. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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