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Nine Arrested in Major Drug Trafficking Bust in Newark


By: Richard L. Smith 

Federal officials reported Friday that nine individuals have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) responsible for distributing fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine in Newark.

AdThe arrests were announced by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.

The accused include Jaquan Beard, 25; Joseph Feliciano, 40; Carlos Lopez, 50; George Lopez, 49; Tyree Malone, 36; and David Quinones, 29, all of Newark. Others charged are Wilberto Cotto, 41; Reinaldo Cruz, 44; Steven Garcia, 48; Adolphus Hunter, 48; Jermaine Jones, 37; and Nelson Valentin, 37, all of Elizabeth, New Jersey; Joel Hernandez, 28, of Parlin, New Jersey; Jonathan Arce, 36, of Belleville, New Jersey; and Jose Correa, 53, of Yardley, Pennsylvania.

Each is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin.

According to the press release from federal officials, George Lopez faces additional charges for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Reynaldo Cruz, 27, of Elizabeth, is charged with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to use and carry a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

Cruz and Quinones are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court today. Other defendants, including Arce, Cotto, Reinaldo Cruz, Feliciano, Hernandez, Hunter, and Carlos Lopez, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer on May 16, 2024, and were detained.

Jones, George Lopez, and Valentin remain detained on state charges, while Beard, Correa, Garcia, and Malone are currently at large.

The charges stem from an extensive investigation revealing that Reinaldo Cruz, Feliciano, Hernandez, and Quinones distributed drugs for the DTO in Essex and Union counties, New Jersey.AdThe drugs were distributed from specific locations to Beard, Correa, Cotto, Garcia, Hunter, Jones, Carlos Lopez, Malone, and Valentin, who then further distributed them. Arce supplied the drugs, while George Lopez, from jail, provided advice and connections regarding drug sources, receiving cash from the DTO.

Many of the defendants are linked to the Latin Kings street gang and possess firearms connected to their drug activities.

The DTO is alleged to have distributed over 50 grams of methamphetamine, 5 kilograms of cocaine, 40 grams of fentanyl, and 100 grams of heroin.

The charges carry severe penalties. The methamphetamine and cocaine conspiracy count has a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential of life imprisonment, and a $10 million fine.

The fentanyl and heroin conspiracy and possession counts each carry a mandatory minimum of five years, a maximum of 40 years, and a $5 million fine.

Possession with intent to distribute controlled substances carries a maximum of 20 years and a $1 million fine.AdThe possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime mandates a minimum of five years consecutive to any other sentence. Conspiracy to use and carry a firearm during drug trafficking carries up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition carries up to 15 years and a $250,000 fine.