By: Najla Alexander
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Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer reported on January 26 Andre Johnson, 47, of Freehold, pled guilty.
According to Ocean county officials, Johnson pled guilty before the Honorable Lisa A. Puglisi, J.S.C., to Possession of Cocaine in an Amount Greater than One-Half Ounce with Intent to Distribute.
At the time of his sentencing on May 26, 2023, the State will be seeking a term of six years in New Jersey State Prison, authorities say.
“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 states, county, and local law enforcement agencies officials said.
Officials say 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.
During the course of 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. Officials say that multiple agencies – both within and outside of 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.
The three cocaine networks were responsible for importing more than three kilograms of cocaine per week into the Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex County areas, authorities say.
Through sophisticated surveillance methods and undercover operatives, “Operation Checkmate” was successful in disrupting and dismantling illicit controlled dangerous substance (CDS) distribution activities in these three counties, as well as New York City, according to officials.
On October 26, 2021, “Operation Checkmate” closed with the apprehension of 24 individuals for various offenses involving the distribution of controlled, dangerous substances.
Officials said additionally, 24 search warrants were executed, resulting in the seizure of more than four kilograms of cocaine, over 15 pounds of marijuana, over $650,000 in United States currency, seven firearms (three handguns, three “ghost guns,” and one pistol grip shotgun), ten vehicles, and additional illegal narcotics.
Officials said on October 26, 2021, Detectives executed a court-authorized search warrant at Johnson’s residence in Freehold, according to officials. As a result, Detectives seized approximately 125 grams of cocaine and $23,000 in United States Currency.
Johnson was transported to the Ocean County Jail and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.