A city man with five prior felony convictions was arraigned today on multiple drug charges following his arrest yesterday by Essex County sheriff’s detectives.
Responding to numerous neighborhood complaints of drug trafficking in Newark’s North Ward, Sheriff Armando Fontoura stated that his department’s Bureau of Narcotics staged a plainclothes surveillance operation at 158 Parker Street on Wednesday afternoon.
At that time, the BON detectives observed as a male suspect loitering on the residence’s front steps when he was approached by a female passerby. Following a brief conversation between the two, the male suspect exchanged items with the woman for cash.
Believing they had witnessed a narcotics transaction, the sheriff’s detectives moved in to further investigate as the female exited the scene on foot.
“In announcing their presence, the suspect raced into the residence and locked the front door behind him,” Sheriff Fontoura noted. “The door was forcibly breached and the suspect was chased into a second floor apartment.”
At this point the suspect managed to elude the officers via a back door.
“However, in the second floor apartment, our BON detectives discovered a second suspect, later identified as Andrew Benjamin, age 24,” the sheriff added. “On top of Benjamin’s bedroom dresser our narcotics team seized 297 grams of marijuana, 30 suboxone films and a wide assortment of drug processing and packaging materials.”
Fontoura estimated the street value of the narcotics at $4,000.
Benjamin was charged with two counts each of the possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of CDS with intent to distribute, possession of CDS with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of Barringer High School and possession of CDS with intent to distribute within 500 feet of Branch Brook Park. The suspect was additionally charged with possession of narcotics paraphernalia.
At today’s arraignment, Benjamin was ordered held at the Essex County jail in lieu of $250,000 cash bond only.
A subsequent search for the female passerby showed negative results.