A look at what (actually) happened at Kearny Marshalls Monday, Dec. 19

The Kearny Marshalls on Passaic Avenue Apple Maps

While rumors inaccurately circulated Dec. 19 of a possible shooting at Marshalls, here’s what actually happened that day, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the criminal complaint filed against the two involved, a copy of which The Observer has obtained.

Two New Jersey men were charged with possessing with intent to distribute approximately a kilogram of cocaine and approximately 100 grams of fentanyl, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said.

Carlos Ovidio Gonzalez, 35, of Newark, and Hector Martinez, 31, of North Bergen, are charged by complaint with one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and fentanyl.

Gonzalez is also charged with one count of being a previously convicted felon in possession of three firearms and ammunition.

The two had their initial appearances by videoconference on Dec. 20, 2022, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jessica S. Allen and were both detained.

On Dec. 19, 2022, Sellinger says Gonzalez and Martinez conspired to distribute the aforementioned drugs and were arrested shortly after they arrived at an agreed-upon location in Kearny — the Marshalls’ parking lot — to complete the sale.

After their arrests, a search of Gonzalez’s home and an apartment also uncovered two loaded firearms, an unloaded firearm, ammunition, drug packaging materials, and suspected heroin, cocaine, oxycodone and Xanax pills.

Gonzalez had previously been convicted, in New Jersey Superior Court, Morris County, of first-degree drug distribution, second-degree weapons possession during a controlled-substance offense and second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, and was sentenced in 2009 to 30 years in prison.

Among the specific items found the the two vehicles used by the suspects were, according to the official complaint: a brick of suspected cocaine, a vacuum-sealed bag containing suspected fentanyl, a bag containing 74 suspected fentanyl pills, a narcotics-style scale, a 9 mm Taurus handgun with 8 rounds in a magazine of 12, a .40 Smith & Wesson handgun with 9 of 10 rounds in place with a five-round extender, 42 loose 9mm bullets, more than 2,100 baggies of suspected heroin, 584 pills of Oxycodone at 30mg a piece, 81 Xanax pills and other items used to package drugs.

The count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and fentanyl carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years in prison, and fine of up to $5 million. The felon in possession of a firearm charge carries a potential maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI and officers with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked Newark Police Department for its assistance. It was those two agencies that conducted the operation.

During the takedown, it was Gonzalez who reportedly fled into the store. He tried to hide but was ultimately apprehended, but as law enforcement searched for him, the entire store was evacuated for everyone’s safety.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.