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Alleged East Orange, PA Drug Dealers Charged with Multiple Narcotics Charges


An alleged out-of-state drug dealer and his alleged local accomplice were arraigned today on multiple narcotics charges following their arrests yesterday by Essex County sheriff’s detectives.

​Responding to numerous neighborhood complaints of open-air drug trafficking in the area of North 9th Street and 4th Avenue in Newark, Sheriff Armando Fontoura stated that his department’s Bureau of Narcotics staged a plainclothes surveillance operation at that location at noon on Thursday.

​“Our BON detectives observed as two suspects, later identified as Aquil Horne, 34 of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Brandon Johnson, 20 of East Orange, set up shop outside of 212 North 9th Avenue,” Sheriff Fontoura said. “The suspects began by unloading plastic sandwich bags from Horne’s 2012 Chevrolet Malibu and stuffing them into their pockets. They moved as smoothly and efficiently as if unloading groceries.”

​The suspects were soon approached by two male passersby. The passersby were later identified as Thomas Lassen, 26 of Bloomfield, and Joseph Damico, 42 of Belleville.

​“In each instance, the passersby engaged in a brief conversation with Johnson who in turn exchanged items from his pants pocket for cash,” Fontoura noted. “The cash was passed on to Horne.”

​The two alleged drug buyers were followed from the scene on foot by the BON detectives. Once out of sight of the scene, Lassen and Damico were each found to be in possession of four heroin-filled glassine envelopes, stamped “MAD MONKEY” in red ink, and arrested.

​“When our BON officers moved in on the two alleged drug dealers Horne hopped over a fence, ran through a few backyards and into an abandoned building,” the sheriff pointed out. “He was cornered and initially resisted arrest by punching and flailing his arms and legs at our officers. Horne was quickly taken into custody and found to be in possession of 47 similarly marked decks of heroin.”

​Johnson was placed under arrest without incident and he was found to be in possession of an additional 33 decks of heroin.

​“Narcotics-detecting K-9 ‘Hanner’ from our department was also deployed to the scene where he conducted an exterior olfactory search of Horne’s vehicle,” the sheriff added. “Hanner’ positively hit on several areas of the car for drugs. The vehicle was impounded and towed to a secure location where we await a search warrant for its contents.”

​Horne and Johnson were each charged with two counts of the distribution of a controlled dangerous substance and one count each of possession of CDS, possession of CDS with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate New Jersey’s narcotics laws.

​Horne was additionally charged with resisting arrest by flight and resisting arrest by force.

​Further charges against the two suspects are pending the results of the search warrant.

​At today’s arraignment, Horne was ordered held at the county jail on an $85,000 cash bond only. Johnson was lodged at the jail on $75,000 cash bond only.

​Lassen and Damico were each issued summonses for possession of CDS and released in their own recognizance. They will be arraigned at a later date.