TRENTON, NJ - State authorities announced that they have charged 20 people in connection with a drug ring responsible for distributing more than 1,000 oxycodone pills per week in northern New Jersey. Warren resident Thomas Lamera, 58, was named as a member of the Paterson-based narcotics network allegedly responsible, according to New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. As of noon Thursday, authorities said all but five of those charged had been arrested in what they called "Operation White Silk."
Alleged ringleader Aurelio Gutierrez, 59, of Paterson was arrested July 11 in Paterson after allegedly selling 110 pills to a dealer, Daniel Blanco, 47, of the Bronx, N.Y. Gutierrez allegedly distributed more than 1,000 oxycodone pills per week in northern New Jersey, which he obtained through “runners,” to obtain pills for distribution.
Authorities said the network distributed high-dose blue pills, or "blues," containing 30 milligrams of oxycodone, and oblong yellow pills, or "bananas," containing 10 milligrams of oxycodone, among other pills. A typical "blue" sells for $10 to $30 on the street, while a "banana" sells for $5 to $8, according to the authorities.
Bail for Gutierrez was set at $275,000 cash, with requirements of a bail source hearing and surrender of passport if bail is posted. The other nineteen defendants, including Lamera, were charged with second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS and held at the Passaic County Jail with cash bails set ranging from $50,000 to $150,000.
The rise of prescription drug abuse has gained attention in the past year because it is believed to eventually fuel the demand for heroin.
Authorities said the investigation is continuing.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked all of the members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division who conducted the investigation and the New Jersey State Police Special Investigations Section and the Paterson Police Department for their valuable assistance in the investigation.
The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau by Detective Kevin Weinkauff, lead detective, Deputy Attorney General Ray Mateo, and North Squad Detectives Louis Renshaw, Travis Johnson, Toni Petreski, Miguel Rodriguez and Luis Cruz, under the supervision of Lt. Christopher Donohue, Sgt. Ho Chul Shin, Deputy Chief of Detectives Chuck Foley, Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa-Yfantis, Deputy Bureau Chief, and Deputy Attorney General Christopher Romanyshyn, Bureau Chief. The investigation was conducted for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office by Detective Stephan Lantigua, Detective Eric Fajardo, and Detective Johnnie Ramos, under the supervision of the Director of the Bureau of Narcotics Mario Recinos and Detective Sgt. Marco Catania.