Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that three alleged drug dealers were indicted today by a state grand jury on first-degree charges in connection with an investigation by the New Jersey State Police that led to the seizure of $732,124 in cash and over 10 ounces of the designer opioid furanyl fentanyl, an analog of the highly potent and dangerous opioid fentanyl.
The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment today charging the following three men:
* Jose Colon-Lora, 33, of Edgewater, N.J., was charged with first-degree conspiracy, first-degree money laundering, second-degree possession of furanyl fentanyl with intent to distribute, and third-degree possession of furanyl fentanyl.
* Jorge Rivera, 26, of Edgewater, N.J., was charged with first-degree conspiracy, first-degree money laundering, second-degree possession of furanyl fentanyl with intent to distribute, third-degree possession of furanyl fentanyl, and fourth-degree obstruction of the administration of justice.
* Pedro Santiago-Agramonte, 37, of New York, N.Y., was charged with first-degree conspiracy.
Colon-Lora, Rivera and Santiago-Agramonte were arrested on July 26, 2016 as the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Violent and Organized Crime Control North Bureau, Trafficking North Unit. On that date, detectives executed a search warrant at an apartment shared by Colon-Lora and Rivera on Alexander Way in Edgewater, N.J.
With the help of a drug detection K9, troopers allegedly found more than 10 ounces of furanyl fentanyl contained in multiple bags in a closet in the master bedroom. In that closet and a second closet, detectives found $732,124 in U.S. currency in various suitcases and bags, along with equipment and materials for packaging drugs and money.
“The evidence shows that these alleged drug dealers were making huge profits by peddling a highly addictive and deadly analog of fentanyl,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Through investigations such as this one, we’re working to stop the flow of opiates into our communities and save lives. Meanwhile, we’re working to stop addiction before it gets started through a new rule limiting the supply of opioid painkillers a doctor can prescribe at one time to five days, except for cancer treatment or palliative care.”
“By seizing the profits of these drug dealers and not just their wares, the State Police enabled us to pursue a first-degree prosecution that will keep these defendants behind bars,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’re sending a message to the traffickers who are fueling opiate addiction in our communities that we’re coming after them with the full force of the law.”
“These suspects allegedly profited handsomely from dealing extremely dangerous and often lethal opioids,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This indictment sends a strong message to those who peddle this poison that we will find them, arrest them, and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
As part of multi-faceted efforts to combat opioid addiction, Attorney General Porrino issued an emergency order in September adding furanyl fentanyl and six other illegal synthetic versions of fentanyl to the list of Schedule 1 Controlled Dangerous Substances in New Jersey, making them subject to the strictest level of state control. While furanyl fentanyl was not a scheduled drug at the time the defendants were arrested, they can be charged under New Jersey law based on the fact that it is an analog of fentanyl, which already was a scheduled CDS. Fentanyl is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, and furanyl fentanyl and its other illegal knock-offs are often more potent than regular fentanyl.
New Jersey has seen a deadly surge in the abuse of fentanyl. Fentanyl was linked to 417 overdose deaths in New Jersey in 2015, up from 142 deaths in 2014 and 46 deaths in 2013.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. First-degree money laundering carries an enhanced fine of up to $500,000 and a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed, with the sentence to run consecutively to the sentences for any other charges. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Bergen County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court for arraignment at a later date.