PATERSON, NEW JERSEY — Eight kilos of cocaine were seized and nine people were indicted in an eight-month probe targeting a major drug operation connected to the notorious Dominican street gang, Trinitarios, which operates along Market Street in the city’s 5th Ward, authorities announced.
Investigators also confiscated $76,000 in suspected drug proceeds, three handguns and small amounts of heroin and pills containing fentanyl, according to a news release issued by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
Authorities said the cocaine that was seized has a street value of about $300,000. The sales took place at multiple locations in Paterson as well as some in Cliffside Park, officials said.
Three of the top suspects in the case – Jose Encarnacion, 35; Adrian Mena-Acevedo, 25; and Luis Peguero-Nin, 27 – were charged with the first degree offense of promoting organized street crime, which comes with a prison sentence of 15 to 30 years, authorities said. All three are Paterson residents, officials said.
Encarnacion allegedly obtained the cocaine in New York City and reportedly supplied it to Mena-Acevado, who is accused of then providing the drugs to Peguero-Nin, the press release said. Peguero-Nin faces three other first-degree charges, including maintaining a drug manufacturing facility, authorities said.
The investigation was led by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau, and assisted by the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, New Jersey State Police and Pennsylvania State Police, officials said.
The Attorney General identified Peguero-Nin as an alleged member of the Trinitarios, or 3NI, street gang, and said he supplied another gang member, Jeffrey Jaquez, 27, of Passaic, with the cocaine.
Jaquez allegedly supplied street dealers, authorities said.
“By dismantling this supply network and locking up its members, we cut off a major source of cocaine for drug dealers in and around New Jersey’s third-largest city,” said Grewal in a news release. “Rather than just locking up street-level dealers or low-level members of this network, we cut deep into the supply line, which is the best way to stop the flow of these destructive drugs into our communities.”
Others indicted in the case were Juan Ruiz-Montano, 37, of the Bronx; Mena-Acevedo’s girlfriend, Emily Aracena-Freijomil, 24, of Paterson; Juan Duran, 23, of Paterson; Chamil Polanco, 24 of Paterson; and a man known as “Gingo” who remains unidentified, authorities said.
Ruiz-Montano was arrested Dec. 12 and was stopped after he left Encarnacion’s apartment in Paterson, authorities said. Investigators executed a search warrant and found six kilos of cocaine, a scale, and $4,500 in a hidden compartment, according to the news release.
Mena-Acevedo and Aracena-Freijomil, who lived together on 20th Avenue in Paterson, are acused of running a drug manufacturing facility, authorities said.
Peguero-Nin, Polanco and “Gingo” allegedly cut and packaged narcotics for distribution at an apartment they shared on Pearl Street in Paterson, the press release said. In a raid at the Pearl Street apartment that took place the same day Ruiz-Montano was arrested, investigators seized three handguns, an illegal large-capacity magazine, hollow point bullets, other ammunition, a small quantity of cocaine, 82 pills containing fentanyl, and heroin in various stages of packaging, authorities said.
Encarnacion, Mena-Acevedo, Peguero-Nin, Jaquez and Ruiz-Montano remain in custody, officials said. Aracena-Freijomil and Duran were arrested and released. Polanco and “Gingo” have not been apprehended, authorities said.
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