Three New Jersey men were taken into custody on Feb. 9 when police and federal agents executed a narcotics search warrant at a premises on Hobson Street in Newark. The operation was conducted by the New Jersey State Police and the Department of Homeland Security. A 34-year-old Irvington resident, a 46-year-old Union man and a 30-year-old Newark resident all face charges including gun possession and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

The search and arrests ended an investigation that began in November 2019. During the investigation, detectives focused their efforts on the Newark property after studying drugs found at overdose scenes. They were able to do this because the three men allegedly stamped their drugs with brand names. After the property had been searched, police had allegedly seized in excess of 15 pounds of pure fentanyl and fentanyl mixed with other substances such as cocaine and heroin. Police also found three handguns and several boxes of ammunition.

The drugs allegedly distributed by the three men have been linked with at least 70 opioid overdoses and 29 overdose deaths. Fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than heroin, and a wave of overdoses in 2018 and 2019 prompted police departments in New Jersey to clamp down on the synthetic drug. These efforts have led to the searches of at least 11 opioid mills and the seizure of about 4.5 million fentanyl doses.

Prosecutors like to go into court with as much evidence as possible in drug trafficking cases, which is why they often make generous plea offers to encourage cooperation when several defendants are involved. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may study search warrant applications and police reports carefully in cases like this one, and they could encourage their clients to accept a sentencing offer when the evidence against them seems to be strong and the police officers involved appear to have acted properly.

Source: The New Jersey Herald, “Authorities seize 15 pounds of fentanyl in major bust”, Lori Comstock, Feb. 11, 2020