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Monmouth County Prosecutor: Major Bust of Multimillion-Dollar Heroin Ring

Charges brought against 52; Rumson and Sea Bright residents arrested.

A massive sweep of a multimillion-dollar heroin ring led to charges against 52 people, including drug buyers from Rumson and Sea Bright, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni announced during a press conference in Freehold on Monday.

The arrests marked the culmination of an eight-month long investigation, titled Operation Hats Off, which began last spring after the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) received information regarding gang activity and heroin distribution in the Shore area. Gramiccioni said the prosecutor’s office would continue to aggressively pursue drug distribution in the county.

“This isn’t going to happen in my county. Don’t bring it into Monmouth because we’re going to find you. We have eyes and ears across the county,” Gramiccioni said. “The people that are inclined to commit these crimes should know about it. We’re going to find you, we’re going to arrest you and we’re going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”   

Operation Hats Off targeted members of the Fruit Town Brims, a subset of the Bloods street gang, and their affiliates, who prosecutors allege were responsible for selling approximately 200 bricks of heroin per week. Gramiccioni estimated the street value of the heroin trafficked during the investigation exceeded $2 million.

The 52 individuals arrested included three primary suppliers, who arranged for the purchase and transportation of the heroin out of Essex County. Prosecutors allege the primary suppliers of the heroin were Hassain Jenkins, 39, of Orange; Roger Barber, 40, of Newark; and Louis Pennington, 29, of Long Branch.

Mid-level suppliers, including alleged ringleaders Ronald Daniels Jr., 23, of Long Branch and Anna Flores, 21, of Highlands, conspired to distribute the heroin throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties, according to Gramiccioni.

Other alleged mid-level suppliers include: Christopher Moon, 21, of Highlands; Ezra Strong, 22, of Long Branch; Donte Gilliard, 22, of Long Branch; Dashawn Graves, 20, of Newark; Damier Johnson, 22, of Long Branch; and Hakeem Wadud, 22, of Paterson.

The remainder of those charged were allegedly repeat buyers, Gramiccioni said. These buyers included residents of Rumson, Sea Bright, Atlantic Highlands, Bayville, Eatontown, Little Silver, Long Branch, Neptune, Oceanport, Red Bank  and West Long Branch. (Click on the attached list to see names and charges.)

“Heroin is pervasive throughout alls walks of society. It doesn’t discriminate with regard to age, sex, race or ethnicity, or anyone’s level of affluence or socioeconomic status. It’s poisoning our communities,” Gramiccioni said.

MCPO Chief of Detectives Michael Pasterchick noted that the purity of heroin sold in New Jersey makes it especially addictive.

“We all know that this drug enslaves its users. Of those who become addicted to heroin, only 20 percent will go on to lead productive lives,” Pasterchick said. “We need to get this message out about the perils of heroin abuse.”

Weapons, Heroin Seized

During the course of the investigation, officers seized significant amounts of heroin, cash and firearms.

On Monday, Nov. 19, law enforcement officers recovered approximately 100 bricks of heroin from an automobile in Eatontown during a routine vehicle stop, according to a press release issued by the MCPO.

On Thursday, Dec. 13, law enforcement officers stopped Jenkins and Barber on the eastbound side of Route 36 in Tinton Falls.  During that stop, officers recovered two packages, each containing 100 bricks of heroin. Jenkins and Barber were charged with narcotics-related offenses and remain incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) in lieu of bail.

Officers raided an Atlantic Avenue apartment in Long Branch apartment on Thursday, Dec. 13. While executing the search warrant, officers recovered 130 bricks of heroin valued at $130,000, as well as $10,000 cash, according to a press release issued by the MCPO.

Three individuals at the residence — Michael Marshall, 62 of Long Branch; Tau Kamau, a.k. “Kevin Smith,” 40, of Long Branch; and Ronald Daniels, Sr., 42, of Long Branch — were charged with narcotics-related offenses and also remain incarcerated at MCCI. 

Searches simultaneously executed on Monday at residences located at Rustic Drive in Ocean Township and Fourth Street in Highlands resulted in the seizure of additional quantities of narcotics, firearms and cash.

Of the 52 individuals charged, 41 have been arrested and 11 remain at large.

George Murphy December 18, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I was sure that the current White House situation would compound this social problem, now my judgement has been confirmed.
Jason December 18, 2012 at 05:56 PM
What does that mean? Are you saying that because there is a democratic president in office that people are using drugs? Drugs have been around for centuries! It should be up to the people of a great nation to police & educate themselves because ultimately it is their choice as to how much value drugs are given. Our society, unfortunately, places a high value on drugs & synthetic enhancers and that is not an administrative flaw, it is an inherent flaw in the mindset of the people. No one worries about drugs until it hits close to home. Maybe if parents took a stand and started acting more like parents instead of friends we wouldn't see smiling mugshots of the next generation after being arrested for purchasing heroin! Let us stop deflecting responsibility and look inside our own glass houses for answers.
George Murphy December 19, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Here we go again: I did not say that it caused anything; I did say that it COMPOUNDS the existing problem. Take a look at the three ring leaders-need I say more? We have a serious problem with racial entitlement and this president has continuously thrown the rock and quickly hides the hand. He does nothing to stop the continual divide, in fact, he has used it to his advantage. I am totally sick of the bleeding heart approach, neglecting to take the bull by the horns and realize that we must stop living in our dream world. We must be objective here: Stop killing the unborn; stop kicking the Lord out of our everyday social arena; start by severly punishing those who have no regard for our laws. Yes, severe punishment along with gun laws, and NOT MERELY gun control. That is not enough! I said nothing about Democrat or Republican because there is corruption on both sides of the fence. Martin Luther King was the one who said, "Judge not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character." I see this president as a fake - he is not from the era of Democrats that once was. Believe me, I know what I am talking about here. I pray that you all will one day stop living is lie. Let's get America back, if for no other reason, to honor the memory of the fallen in Connecticut. God loves you Jason, and so do I - Merry Christmas!!
michelle wallace December 19, 2012 at 03:24 PM
i know one of those guys, he is not an awful person and his family is not awful either... saying look at them doesnt mean squat. maybe someone got caught up with no way out but losing their life. leave them alone. we all have problems, theirs is worse. i am sad to see this is how its gone...
George Murphy December 19, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Michelle - None is an awful person. But, is it so difficult for all of us to at least try to do the right thing? If he is an adict, then get the spiritual and physical help that is needed. If he is a dealer, then he is clearly in the wrong and should pay the price. Much of the violent crime out there is tied to drugs, in some way. I am not condemning anyone here, but there is a pattern, nonetheless.

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