Two tied to massive shore heroin distribution ring await sentencing
Two North Jersey men have June 23 sentencing dates for abetting a heroin ring that authorities said sent some 30,000 doses - often laced with fentanyl - flooding into Ocean and Atlantic Counties from Paterson each month.
Richard Michilena, 26, of Elmwood Park, and Bolivar Delacruz, 39, of Lodi, were among 19 arrested in April 2015, following an eight-month probe by the Atlantic City Task Force (ACTF).
In a Trenton courtroom today, they pleaded guilty to possession of heroin with intent to distribute, according to the office of New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. Prosecutors seek 10 year sentences for each.
ACTF seized 16,000 bags of the drug and more than $52,000 cash or "bags" of heroin and over $52,000 in cash.
Investigators alleged that the members of the operation completed deals in front of young children, used a minor to push the drugs, and swapped the drug for food stamps.
Fentanyl is the highly-concentrated and potentially deadly opiate, found in prescription pain medications, that's estimated to be at least 50 times stronger than heroin.
Michilena and Delacruz were arrested on a Paterson street corner on April 18, 2015.
Investigators said that they were completing a deal with Helene Gonzalez, 39, of Pleasantville, and Tarik Hopkins, 35, of Galloway.
Gonzalez and Hopkins were under surveillance by ACTF members, who reported seizing a purse holding $23,885 in cash, meant as payment to Michilena and Delacruz.
Authorities said they also confiscated 10,000 wax folds of heroin, packaged into 50 bundles known as bricks, in a duffel bag in a BMW driven by Michilena.
ACTF, headquartered in the Attorney General's Office, includes New Jersey State Police, Atlantic City and Pleasantville PD, Atlantic County Prosecutor's and Sheriff's Offices, the state Parole Board and the state Division of Criminal Justice.
Also involved in this investigation are the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, police departments in Brigantine, Hamilton Township, Egg Harbor Township, and Little Egg Harbor, the New Jersey Air National Guard, Federal Bureau of Investigaton, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Homeland Security Investigations division of U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement.