Authorities in Atlantic City say a months-long investigation into the distribution of narcotics resulted in 16 people being arrested and massive quantities of drugs and guns being taken off of the streets.
The actions of numerous law enforcement agencies culminated with nearly a dozen search warrants being executed over the past several days as officials focused on Florida Avenue in Atlantic City.
According to the Atlantic City Police Department,
The network, led by brothers Joseph and Justin Suarez, utilized a series of stash locations and street level dealers to distribute cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin in Atlantic City. According to the New Jersey State Police’s Drug Monitoring Initiative, this particular brand of heroin/fentanyl, known as ‘Bad Bunny’, has been linked to at least 25 overdoses including 8 fatalities.
From their efforts, police seized,
- 785 bricks, or 39,250 individual wax folds of packaged heroin/fentanyl
- Approximately 7 ounces of cocaine
- 4 handguns, one was determined to be a “ghost gun” and another was stolen
- Various ammunition
- Miscellaneous amounts of crack cocaine and suspected fentanyl pills
- Approximately $86,650, believed to be proceeds of illegal narcotics sales
In a press release, Atlantic County Prosecutor William Reynolds said,
This lengthy investigation with the ACPD, DEA and the Atlantic County Prosecutors office was successful using the most up to date technology and resources to bring this drug dealing organization to its knees and to a screeching halt. This sends a clear message to the community, Be on Notice, this conduct will not be tolerated. We will continue to work together and aggressively prosecute those who put this poison on the streets.
The following people were arrested and remanded to the Atlantic County Justice Facility
ARRESTED: Justin Suarez, 37, of Atlantic City; Joseph Suarez, 37, of Atlantic City
CHARGES: First-degree leader of a narcotics trafficking network, third-degree unlawful possession of CDS (3 counts), second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS (3 counts), first-degree possession of CDS with the intent to distribute (2 counts), second-degree possession of CDS with the intent to distribute, and third-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity.
ARRESTED: James Dimeo, 59, of Atlantic City; Howard Cubbage, 57, of Atlantic City; Safiya Braxton, 36, of Atlantic City; Arcadia Ridley, 32, of Absecon; Maurice Braxton, 34, of Atlantic City; Keith Potter, 60, of Galloway
CHARGES: Third-Degree Unlawful Possession of CDS (3 counts), second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS (3 counts), first-degree possession of CDS with the intent to distribute CDS (2 counts), second-degree possession of CDS with the intent to distribute, third-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity.
ARRESTED: Lydia Santana, 31, of Atlantic City; Terrea Acosta, 55, of Atlantic City; Brianna Perez, 30, of Atlantic City
CHARGES: Second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS (3 counts) and third-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity.
ARRESTED: Michael Howell, 35, of Atlantic City
CHARGES: Fourth-degree unlawful possession of marijuana, third-degree possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, and third-degree distribution of marijuana.
ARRESTED: Jose Perez Paredes, 29, of Philadelphia; Yoao Jerez-Tejada, 37, of Philadelphia
CHARGES: First-degree possession of CDS with the intent to distribute CDS, second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, unlawful possession of CDS, third-degree unlawful possession of CDS, third-degree distribution of CDS on or near school property.
ARRESTED: Orlando Peguero-Perez, 36, of West New York, NJ
CHARGES: Second-degree possession of CDS with the intent to distribute, second-degree distribution of CDS within 500ft of Public Property, unlawful possession of CDS, third-degree distribution of CDS On or near school property, and third-degree money laundering.
The below individual was released on a summons with a future court date:
ARRESTED: Malik Lyons, 22, of Egg Harbor Township, NJ.
CHARGES: Second-degree possession of CDS with the intent to distribute, third-degree unlawful possession of CDS, first-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, possession of a handgun without a having first obtained a permit, second-degree possession of a firearm while committing a CDS offense, certain persons not to possess a firearm, and fourth-degree receiving stolen property.
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said in a release,
I am extremely proud of our outstanding police department. We are continuing to show our dedication and commitment to cleaning up our city and making it a safer place to both live and visit. I want to also thank the multiple law enforcement agencies that assisted in ending this drug distribution network. Drugs and violence have no place in our city. The work does not stop here.
The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Cold Cases: South Jersey’s Unsolved Murders & Mysteries
NJ ‘perv’ teachers, coaches busted in the past year through 2022
There have been a number of educators, coaches and private teachers facing criminal charges for sexual offenses around New Jersey this past year.