A Howell man who allegedly sold two stolen handguns he took in a burglary from a trailer on Ford Road in the Township along with other items was arrested following "covert operations" by investigators across central New Jersey last week.

Robert Tinker, Getty Images

26 year-old Francis Cottrell Jr. allegedly stole two loaded handguns, two shotguns and some assorted collectible coins in the trailer on Sunday July 16.

Following an investigation police in Howell arrested Cottrell Jr., a former owner of the dog kennel on the property, last Tuesday July 18 on charges of burglary, theft, unlawful possession of a handgun and other weapons offenses.

So where did all the stolen items end up?

  • Investigators found the Remington 870 12 gauge shotguns wrapped in plastic and buried two-feet in the ground in a horse stall on a farm in Freehold Township.
  • The stolen collectible coins were found at a pawn shop Cottrell Jr. sold them to in Ewing Township by the detective bureau in Ewing.
  • The two stolen handguns, a .44 and .22 caliber Ruger revolvers, were sold to a drug dealer in Trenton by Cottrell Jr. in exchange for an undisclosed amount heroin. But the loaded-handguns were recovered when the alleged drug dealer, Tyrik Johnson, 23, of Trenton was arrested himself on July 19 and charged with weapons and drug offenses. The guns were recovered along with "stolen hollow point ammunition."
  • The Howell Towship Police Investigations Unit along with the New Jersey State Police Troop C CIO Detective Operational Group and Crime Suppression Unit conducted a separate covert operation in Trenton in which Johnson was arrested.

After three days worth of investigations by police in Howell, Ewing and State Police both men were arrested and charged.

Cottrell Jr. is charged with burglary, theft, unlawful possession of handgun (two counts), unlawful possession of a weapon (2 counts) and prohibited person possessing weapons.

He was transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institute.

Johnson is charged in Trenton with various drug and weapons offenses including, receiving stolen property, unlawful possession of a handgun and distribution of CDS.

He was transported to the Mercer County Correctional Institute.

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