Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes recently announced the dismemberment of a large-scale drug-trafficking operation in Paterson, New Jersey, which resulted in thirteen arrests on charges related to prescription drug and cocaine distribution.
According to Valdes, officers from the Paterson, Wayne, Passaic, Clifton, Hawthorne, Little Falls, Totowa, Wanaque, William Paterson University, Garfield, and North Caldwell police departments; officials from the Passaic and Essex County prosecutor’s offices; and members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, participated in the six-month investigation.
Nine residents from Passaic, Bergen, and Essex counties were charged with drug-related crimes, in addition to the four primary suspects in the case, all of whom are from Paterson.
The four key individuals identified by authorities include: 31-year-old Fidel Gonzalez, who is currently facing charges including leading a drug trafficking network, as well as 33-year-old Victor Torres, 19-year-old McCoy Whitaker, and 19-year-old Andrew Jackson, who are all facing charges including conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance.
When officials conducted searches of their respective residences, they discovered a myriad of controlled dangerous substances, such as prescription drugs, cocaine, marijuana, and MDMA.
Gonzalez, who is facing the charges for leading a narcotics trafficking network, is allegedly responsible for organizing the distribution of oxycodone throughout Paterson beginning in November of 2013. He is charged with the most serious of offenses, as leading a narcotics trafficking network, codified by N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3, is classified as a first degree crime under New Jersey law.
In fact, violations of this statute are subject to even more severe sentencing guidelines than typical crimes of the first degree, as individuals convicted on charges for leading a narcotics trafficking network are typically sentenced to lifetime imprisonment and a 25-year period of parole ineligibility. They also face a fine of up to $750,000.00 or five times the street value of the controlled dangerous substance involved in their specific case.
For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Paterson drug ring busted after 6-month investigation