By: Yuritza Arroyo
Ocean County authorities announced that on March 13, 2023, Mark Capichana, 55, of Keyport, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine in an Amount Greater than Five Ounces with Intent to Distribute, as well as Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity.
According to officials, at the time of his sentencing on June 30, the State will seek a term of seven years in New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) for the Narcotics charge and seven years in NJSP for the Financial Facilitation charge. The sentences are to run consecutively.
“Operation Checkmate” was a four-month-long cooperative, multi-jurisdictional investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, United States Drug Enforcement Administration – High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Group 5, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, and New Jersey State Police - Trafficking Central Unit, in concert with many other state, county, and local law enforcement agencies.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force managed and directed three simultaneous multi-agency investigations into high-level cocaine distribution in Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex Counties, and New York City.
According to authorities, during these investigations, approximately 50 additional law enforcement personnel were assigned to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force on a full-time basis.
Multiple agencies – within and outside Ocean County - assisted in every aspect of all three investigations.
The investigations, identified as “Operation Checkmate,” began in July 2021 and concluded in October 2021.
According to Detectives, the three cocaine networks were responsible for importing more than three kilograms of cocaine per week into the Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex County areas.
Detectives say on October 26, 2021, “Operation Checkmate” closed with the apprehension of 24 individuals for various offenses involving the distribution of controlled dangerous substances.
Additionally, 24 search warrants were executed, resulting in the seizure of more than four kilograms of cocaine, over 15 pounds of marijuana, in excess of $650,000 in United States currency, seven firearms (three handguns, three “ghost guns,” and one pistol grip shotgun), ten vehicles, and additional illegal narcotics.
On October 26, 2021, Detectives executed a court-authorized search warrant at Capichana’s residence in Keyport and a business operated by Capichana, also located in Keyport.
As a result, law enforcement seized – in combination with the residence and the business – approximately 1,455 grams of cocaine as well as $166,000 in United States currency.
Capichana was transported to the Ocean County Jail and later released due to New Jersey Bail Reform.