$1M in drugs trafficked, 31 arrests

Following a three-month cooperative investigation involving 26 law enforcement agencies, authorities last week reported they had brought down a narcotics ring operating along the Route 21 corridor.

Among the 31 individuals arrested in a Nov. 23 predawn sweep through seven counties were residents of North Arlington, Lyndhurst and Bloomfield.

The announcement of the bust was made the following day by officials including Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and State Attorney General John Hoffman at a Newark press conference.

During just the three months of the probe, approximately $1 million in narcotics, primarily heroin but also marijuana and cocaine, had been trafficked, authorities said.

In the Nov. 23 raids, 518 bricks of heroin, with an estimated street value of $300,000, were confiscated. In Bloomfield alone, approximately eight pounds of marijuana — with a street value of more than $40,000 — and $50,000 in U.S. currency were seized.

Smaller amounts of cocaine and additional marijuana were confiscated at other locations, and more than $71,000 in currency was seized in total. Additionally, nine vehicles were impounded, including a 2015 Mercedes Benz.

The searches and arrests were conducted throughout Essex, Bergen, Union, Sussex, Middlesex, Morris and Passaic counties.

According to authorities, the distribution ring was being run by five suspects: Jermaine Nelson, 37, of Edgewater; Ibn Walker, 30, of Orange; Shakira Nelson, 31, Edgar Ortiz, 35, and Teyoina Solomon, 22, all of Newark.

The local residents arrested and facing lesser charges were: •

Yolanda Kilpatrick, 40, of Bloomfield, who was charged with conspiracy;

• Andres Soto, 34, of Bloomfield, charged with conspiracy, possession of narcotics with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute in a school zone;

• Shawn Beauchene, 30, of Lyndhurst, narcotics possession;

• William Beauchene, 32, of North Arlington, narcotics possession;

• Josephine Heatherly, 33, of North Arlington, narcotics possession.

Authorities said that Heatherly was an employee of the Youth Consultation Service, a nonprofit that provides assistance to parents and children in crisis.

Several other suspects, including William Mullen Jr., 30, of Bloomfield, charged with possession of narcotics, were reported at large.

The investigation had been launched by Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Dets. Jerod Glover and Maritza Colon, who were working with the attorney general’s office.

It grew to encompass the FBI, ICE/Customs, N.J. State Police, Essex County Sheriff’s Department, Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex and Morris County Prosecutor’s Offices, and 18 local police departments, including those of Belleville, Bloomfield, Lyndhurst, North Arlington and Nutley.

“By working together, we believe we have brought down an operation that fueled the state’s growing heroin epidemic,’’ Murray said. “Arrests like these are aimed at disrupting the drug trade in our state and putting drug dealers on notice that when they distribute narcotics in our communities, they do so at their own peril.”

Hoffman said, “Through these efforts, we’re working hard to curb drug-related violence — and to stop the scourge of heroin and opiate pain-pill abuse that is claiming far too many lives across our state and ripping apart our communities.’’

– Karen Zautyk 

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