PATERSON, NJ (Passaic County) – Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan Friday announced arrests of five persons in the takedown of a major fentanyl and heroin mill in Paterson that distributed its narcotics in wax folds stamped with the same brand names that have been linked to 14 fatal and 13 nonfatal overdoses.
The New Jersey State Police and its partners seized approximately 6,300 individual doses, an additional kilogram of heroin, and 170 grams of fentanyl – which together have a total street value of $100,500 (kilo of heroin $60,000, 170 grams of fentanyl $9,000 and 6,300 doses $31,500).
Since assuming office in 2018, Attorney General Grewal identified several key initiatives including fighting the opioid crisis. One of the major methods in tackling the opioid crisis has been to identify and disrupt chokepoints in the drug supply by neutralizing heroin mills across the state.
The arrests were made in an ongoing investigation by the New Jersey State Police Trafficking North Unit, conducted with the NJ State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force, the NJ State Police T.E.A.M.S, K9, and Hazmat Units, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, and the Division of Criminal Justice.
Joel Rodriguez-Gomez, 29, William Jimenez-Reyes, 37, Nelson Reinoso, 41, and Johanna Reynoso, 29, all of Paterson, were charged with maintaining a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) production facility, possession of CDS with intent to distribute, possession of CDS, possession of CDS with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school zone, and conspiracy to engage in distribution of CDS. All four suspects were lodged at the Passaic County Jail pending detention hearings.
Jordani Barragan, 22, also of Paterson, was charged with possession of CDS with intent to distribute, possession of heroin, possession of prescription legend drugs, and possession of marijuana. He was released pending a court appearance.
The suspects allegedly distributed their narcotics in wax folds stamped with brand names that have been linked to 27 total suspected overdoses across New Jersey, including 14 fatal overdoses.
“By shutting down this drug mill and preventing thousands of doses of suspected heroin and fentanyl from reaching the street – including wax folds of heroin stamped with brand names linked to 14 fatal and 13 nonfatal overdoses – we undoubtedly saved lives,” Grewal said. “Since its formation in late 2018, the State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force has dismantled over 20 opioid mills and seized two-thirds of a million potentially deadly doses of heroin and fentanyl. We will continue to pursue this aggressive, collaborative strategy, spearheaded by the State Police, to dismantle drug mills and other major drug sources and choke off the supply line of deadly opioids coming into our communities.”
“The deadly drugs that are being manufactured and sold on our streets are decimating communities and destroying families. A deadly dose taken can have the same effect as a bullet fired from a gun,” Callahan said. “By shutting down these illegal drug mills and aggressively pursuing the operators, a message will be sent that law enforcement will not waver in our commitment to rid our neighborhoods of deadly drugs.”
During a month-long investigation, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Trafficking North Unit determined that an opioid mill was being operated out of a residence on Cliff Street in Paterson. On Tuesday, July 14, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Trafficking North Unit along with members of the New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force observed several alleged drug transaction at the residence between the occupants of a Toyota Camry, Honda Odyssey, and an Infiniti QX6.
A short time later, detectives along with members of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office stopped the vehicles. The driver of the Toyota was found to be in possession of 2,500 individual doses of heroin. The occupants of the Honda were found to be in possession of 3,800 individual doses of heroin, a kilogram of heroin, and 170 grams of fentanyl. The occupants of the Infiniti were found to be in possession of $10,000 cash. All of the suspects were arrested without incident.
While conducting a search of the Honda, detectives recovered 11 different stamps used to brand packaged narcotics. Drug traffickers market their “brand” of drug by ink-stamping the outside of a wax fold with a unique image, word or phrase such as “Home Alone,” “Scorpion,” and “Same Number,” which are examples of the stamps recovered.
Shortly after the arrests, detectives with the Trafficking North Unit along with members of the State Police T.E.A.M.S, K9, and Hazmat Units executed a search warrant at the residence, which resulted in the seizure of additional packaging materials consistent with a narcotics production facility.
This investigation is part of a broader strategy being implemented by the Opioid Enforcement Task Force and Division of Criminal Justice that reflects a shift in how the state is investigating and prosecuting opioid cases. Investigations and intelligence show that, in some cases, a large number of overdose deaths can be traced back to a single source, often a supplier who indiscriminately mixes fentanyl with heroin. By focusing on identifying and shutting down these sources, the state is leveraging its resources to have maximum impact in choking off the supply line of deadly opioids and reducing overdoses and fatalities.
Since October 2018, the OETF has conducted 96 operations and seized more than 679,360 individual doses of packaged opioids valued at $3,396,800, more than 72 kilograms of raw heroin valued at $4,320,000, more than 23 kilograms of fentanyl valued at $1,150,900, more than 44,000 fentanyl based pills valued at $443,710, more than 31 kilograms of cocaine valued at $1,116,000, more than $2,035,500 in U.S. currency, and 53 firearms. The OETF has also disrupted or dismantled 25 fully operational opioid packaging facilities, a fully operational fentanyl pill pressing operation, and arrested 217 suspects.