16 People Arrested in Serious Drug Bust: Heroin, Cocaine, Meth, and Fentanyl


U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger stated today that nine people had been taken into custody on suspicion of being part of a narcotics trafficking operation that operated in Newark and distributed cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl.

Joel Hernandez, 28, of Parlin, New Jersey; Jonathan Arce, 36, of Belleville, New Jersey; and Jose Correa, 53, of Yardley, Pennsylvania are among the people who have been arrested. Jaquan Beard, 25, Joseph Feliciano, 40, Carlos Lopez, 50, George Lopez, 49, Tyree Malone, 36, and David Quinones, 29, are all from Newark; Wilberto Cotto, 41, Reinaldo Cruz, 44, Steven Garcia, 48, Adolphus Hunter, 48, Steven Garcia, 48, Tyree Malone, 36, and Nelson Valentin, 37, all of Elizabeth, New Jersey; and Jose Correa, 53, of Yardley, Pennsylvania.

They are accused of plotting to distribute heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine. George Lopez is also accused of possessing firearms in support of a drug trafficking operation, unlawfully possessing firearms and ammunition, and possessing methamphetamine and cocaine with the purpose to distribute them.

Reynaldo Cruz, 27, of Elizabeth, is accused with conspiring to use and carry a pistol during a drug trafficking offense as well as possessing controlled narcotics with the intent to distribute them.

Quinones and Cruz are expected to appear in federal court in Newark today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre. On May 16, 2024, a number of additional defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer and were taken into custody. State charges have Jones, George Lopez, and Valentin in custody. Malone, Garcia, Beard, and Correa are all still at large.

The defendants dispersed controlled narcotics from a few specified locations throughout Essex and Union counties in New Jersey, according to statements and court documents. 100 grams of heroin, 5 kilos of cocaine, 40 grams of fentanyl, and more than 50 grams of methamphetamine were disseminated by the drug trafficking organization (DTO), according to the investigation. Numerous defendants are known to own firearms in connection with their drug-related activities and are connected to the Latin Kings street gang.

The methamphetamine and cocaine conspiracy offense has a required minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a fine of $10 million. The obligatory minimum and maximum sentences for other charges differ, with fentanyl and heroin conspiracy counts carrying a potential sentence of 40 years in prison and possession with the intent to distribute prohibited narcotics carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Union County Prosecutor’s Office, Elizabeth Police Department, Union County Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations Newark, Essex County Sheriff’s Department, Hudson County Department of Corrections, Cranford Police Department, Bloomfield Police Department, New Jersey State Police SWAT Team, Newark Police Department, Hudson County Regional SWAT Team, and the U.S. Marshals Service were among the law enforcement agencies that U.S. Attorney Sellinger acknowledged for their cooperative efforts.

John Mezzanotte and Eli Jacobs, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, are representing the government. Until their guilt is established, the defendants are believed to be innocent of the counts in the complaint.

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