Monmouth County Drug Bust Nets 19 Suspects ; One At-Large

TRENTON, N.J. – Twenty people have been charged for their roles as members, associates, and suppliers of a drug-trafficking conspiracy that distributed cocaine and crack cocaine in the Monmouth County, area, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Nineteen defendants were arrested today and one remains at large. They are charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine or 280 grams or more of crack cocaine.

The defendants arrested today are scheduled to have their initial appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois H. Goodman in Trenton federal court.

“As alleged in complaint, the defendants in this organization distributed significant amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine throughout Monmouth County and surrounding municipalities,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “By coordinating closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we continue to work hard to substantially reduce on the drug trade in in our communities in these areas, and across the state.”

“Today's operation is another example of the FBI's dedication to keeping the public safe,” FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Gregory W. Ehrie, Newark, said. “We know it is a way of life for drug dealers to pollute their neighborhoods with toxic substances so they can profit. It is the FBI's way of life to use dogged determination to find those who are doing the most damage, get them off the streets, and help our local and federal prosecutors put them out of business so the neighborhoods might recover. Our job is made easier when community members take a stand and report any illegal activity they witness.”

According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Between April 2019 and August 2019, the defendants and others engaged in a narcotics conspiracy that operated primarily in municipalities throughout Monmouth County – including Cliffwood, Keansburg, Matawan, Keyport, Red Bank, Long Branch, Neptune, and Asbury Park, as well as Brick Township in Ocean County – and which sought to profit from the distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine.

Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement officials learned that defendant Damion Helmes obtained regular supplies of cocaine from defendants Derrick Hayes and Dequan Copeland. Helmes then distributed that cocaine, portions of which he converted into crack cocaine, for profit, to other distributors, sub-dealers, and end users throughout Monmouth County.

During the wiretap portion of the investigation, law enforcement intercepted numerous communications by and between the conspirators regarding such issues as cocaine quality and availability, pricing, packaging, quantity, and customer satisfaction.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

The suspects are:
Damion Helmes 39, Cliffwood, NJ
Derrick Hayes, 37, Neptune, NJ
Dequan Copeland, 40, Red Bank, NJ
Dawn Stephens, 38, Keansburg, NJ
Shantay Walker, 42, Howell, NJ
Keith Logan, 38, Long Branch, NJ
Shamar Dudley, 42, Long Branch, NJ
Cassius Williams, 26, Keyport, NJ
Tonya Underwood, 46, Matawan, NJ
Michelle Torrez, 44, Matawan, NJ
Elizabeth Conover, 28, Laurence Harbor, NJ
Curtis Jenkins, 36, Keyport, NJ
Ralph Lee, 40, Keyport, NJ
Jermaine Hicks, 39, Wall, NJ
Skyler Rogers, 35, Cliffwood, NJ
Terry Haupt, 35, Neptune, NJ
Amad Jones, 37, Long Branch, NJ
Eric Yarbrough, 28, Keansburg, NJ
Rondell Hill, 35, Lakewood, NJ
Malcolm Gatson, 43, Cliffwood, NJ
Minimum of 5 years, maximum of 40

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.