ATLANTIC CITY – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced the indictment of three alleged New York City-based heroin traffickers as a result of an investigation by members of the Atlantic City Task Force and federal agents of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that led to the seizure of 3 kilos of heroin in Atlantic City last year.
The Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau yesterday obtained an Atlantic County grand jury indictment charging the following men with 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 possession of heroin:
- Steven Rodriguez, 23, of Queens, N.Y.,
- Edwin Gomez, 32, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and
- Steven Torres, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y.
The three men were arrested in June 2017 in Atlantic City by members of the Atlantic City Task Force (ACTF) – led in this case by the Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department – and federal agents of HSI. An investigation by the partnering agencies revealed that a drug trafficking organization was transporting large quantities of heroin from New York City into Atlantic City. Through the investigation, the agencies developed information that the three defendants allegedly were planning to deliver a large amount of heroin to a location on the beach block of Saint James Place.
When Torres and Gomez arrived in a parking lot on Saint James Place at about 1 p.m. on June 15, 2017, they were placed under arrest. Approximately 3 kilograms of heroin, wrapped in plastic bags, were seized from the van they were operating. Rodriguez was arrested nearby in an SUV. He allegedly drove to the area with Gomez and took part in the delivery of the heroin.
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 Department and Brigantine Police Department. 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.
“Heroin deaths have more than doubled over the past five years as the opioid epidemic has tightened its grip on New Jersey, and alleged suppliers like these defendants who bring large quantities of heroin into our state are fueling this deadly crisis,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Our new Office of NJ CARES is overseeing a multi-faceted assault on the opioid epidemic which also emphasizes prevention and treatment strategies, but we remain absolutely committed to these collaborative law enforcement efforts to interdict major drug traffickers.”
“The heroin seized in this case could have been cut and packaged to yield 60,000 doses – enough doses for every person living in Atlantic City and neighboring Pleasantville,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “The Atlantic City Task Force has been highly effective in leveraging law enforcement resources, in cooperation with its federal partners, to reduce drug dealing and gun violence in and around Atlantic City.”
“If this massive seizure prevented just one death or overdose or prevented just one person from falling victim to addiction, then it was a success,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Much more work remains ahead, but our resolve has never been stronger as we vow to continue to work cooperatively with all of our partners to combat this crisis on all fronts.”
“This case demonstrates that those involved in narcotics distribution will be pursued to the full extent of the law,” said Brian Michael, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Newark. “This interagency effort brought down an organization that would have brought large amounts of heroin into our state, one which is already ravaged by the opioid epidemic.”
The first-degree charge carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. The 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 indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Deputy Attorney General James Ruberton of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau presented the indictment to the grand jury for the Atlantic City Task Force. Attorney General Grewal 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 Group Supervision of Resident Agent in Charge Richard Reinhold. Detective Thomas McAnney of the Little Egg Harbor Township 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.
Defense Attorney: Undetermined
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