18 people arrested on drug charges; police seize stolen gun, 6 vehicles and $2,800 in cash

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp announced Wednesday the arrest of several heroin and crack cocaine distributors following a long-term drug investigation that began in October 2016 into the daily importation and distribution of these dangerous substances into Morris County.

The investigation, conducted by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Enforcement Unit/Narcotics Task Force, revealed that Kevin O. Ruiz, 23, of Elmwood Park, NJ ran a profitable drug distribution network in which he personally delivered heroin and crack cocaine to his drug customers daily in Morris, Sussex, Warren and Bergen Counties. The investigation revealed that many of Ruiz’s drug buyers would re-distribute the heroin and crack cocaine they purchased from him in their home towns, which included Jefferson Township, Rockaway Township, Hackettstown, Hackensack and surrounding areas, Knapp said.

During a twenty-five day period of this investigation, it is believed that Kevin O. Ruiz directly distributed, in the aggregate, over 4000 individual doses of heroin and over 130 packages of crack cocaine, which has a street value in excess of $12,000, Knapp said.

On March 17, 2017, the investigation culminated when several Court authorized search and arrest warrants were executed throughout Morris, Sussex, Warren, Bergen, and Passaic Counties by the Morris County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team, Bergen County Regional SWAT and the members of the aforementioned County Prosecutor’s Offices Narcotics Task Forces. Subsequent to execution of the warrants, the individuals were arrested and over 210 doses of heroin, 16 bags of crack cocaine, $2,800 US Currency, a stolen handgun, and 6 motor vehicles were seized. The US Currency and motor vehicles may be subject to a civil forfeiture action. Upon forfeiture, these assets could be utilized for law enforcement purposes, Knapp said.

Prosecutor Knapp stated: “This intensive investigation and subsequent arrests of for profit drug distributors would not have been possible without the cooperation of our municipal law enforcement agencies, other County Prosecutors and the New Jersey State Police. We will continue to work together and target heroin dealers that sell these deadly substances in Morris County.”

The following individuals were arrested as a result of this investigation:

Kevin O. Ruiz, aka “Star”, 23, of Elmwood Park, NJ

  • One count of second-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity of one-half ounce or more, but less than five ounce, with intent to distribute, one count of second-degree possession of a firearm while committing a CDS offense, one count of second-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine in a quantity of one-half ounce or more, but less than five ounce, with intent to distribute, three counts of second-degree conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public place, two counts of second-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine with Intent to Distribute within 500 feet of a public place, seventeen counts of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin, sixteen counts of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute, eight counts of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine, seven counts of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess Percocet, one count of third-degree possession of heroin, one count of third-degree possession of heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute, one count of third-degree possession of cocaine and one count of third-degree possession of cocaine in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Ruiz was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level III (plus) with home detention, electronic monitoring and weekly reporting by phone and in person reporting every other week to pretrial services.

Jashawn Halloway, aka “Slime”, 31, of Paterson, NJ

  • one count of second-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity of one-half ounce or more, but less than five ounce, with intent to distribute, one count of second-degree conspiracy to possess heroin with Intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public place, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine, one count of second-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine in a quantity of one-half ounce or more, but less than five ounce, with intent to cistribute and one count of second-degree conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public place.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Halloway is lodged in the Morris County Correctional Facility pending a hearing concerning his release and/or release conditions to be ordered by the Court.

Charles E. Nassor, 56, of Hackensack, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess Percocet, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess Percocet in a quantity less than one ounce with intent to distribute.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Nassor was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level III requiring weekly reporting by phone and in person reporting every other week to pretrial services, random urine monitoring and to attend Narcotics Anonymous weekly.

Keith R. Fitzgerald, 24, of Oak Ridge, NJ

  • One count of second-degree conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public place, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Fitzgerald was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services, random urine monitoring and to attend Narcotics Anonymous weekly.

Heather L. Baer, 35, of Hackettstown, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine and one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Baer was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services, random urine monitoring and to attend Narcotics Anonymous weekly.

Richard R. Wagner, 44, of Andover, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute and one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine and one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Wagner was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services, random urine monitoring and to attend Narcotics Anonymous weekly.

Richard Copeland, 33, of Newton, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin and one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Copeland was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services, random urine monitoring and to attend Narcotics Anonymous weekly.

Dana L. Keim, 22, of Newton, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Keim was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services and to attend Narcotics Anonymous weekly.

Kelly L. Burnette, 52, of Rockaway, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin and one count of third-degree possession of heroin.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Mrs. Burnette was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services, random urine monitoring, and to attend Narcotics Anonymous weekly.

Garret J. Burnette, 25, of Rockaway, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin and one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Mr. Burnette was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services, random urine monitoring and to attend Narcotics Anonymous weekly.

Sheryl A. Onder, 55, of Seaside, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin and one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Onder was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services, random urine monitoring and to attend Narcotics Anonymous weekly.

Jessica M. Roberts, 35, of Mine Hill, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin and one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Roberts was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services.

Jassmine J. Royal, 27, of Elmwood Park, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin and one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Royal was released on her own recognizance.

Melissa K. Gansz, 28, of Hopatcong, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Gansz was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services and random urine monitoring.

Michael P. Monteverdi, 25. of Oak Ridge, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Monteverdi was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level I requiring reporting once a month by phone to pretrial services.

Markella I. Strongilos, 26, of Sparta, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine and one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Strongilos was released on a Pretrial Monitoring Level II requiring reporting once a month by phone and in person to pretrial services and random urine monitoring.

Sean H. Meekel, 28, of Lake Hopatcong, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute, one count of second-degree conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public place, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine, one count of third-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine in a quantity less than one-half ounce with intent to distribute and one count of second-degree conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public place.

Mekeel is being detained, pending admission into the Morris County Correctional Facility, at which time, pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Mekeel will have a hearing concerning his release and/or release conditions to be ordered by the Court.

Travis J. Schneider, 29, of Vernon, NJ

  • One count of third-degree conspiracy to possess heroin.

Pursuant to the Bail Reform law, Scheider is lodged in the Morris County Correctional Facility pending a hearing concerning his release and/or release conditions to be ordered by the Court.

Prosecutor Knapp wishes to thank the following agencies for their assistance and commitment to the Task Force: Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Special Enforcement Unit, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Morris County Park Police, New Jersey State Police, Morristown Bureau of Police, Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Police Department, Town of Dover Police Department, Morris Township Police Department, Boonton Township Police Department, Butler Borough Police Department, Jefferson Township Police Department, Rockaway Borough Police Department, Montville Township Police Department, Riverdale Borough Police Department, Sparta Township Police Department and the Town of Newton Police Department.

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By: Jay Edwards Follow on Twitter | Like on Facebook