TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that two individuals were arrested on first-degree drug charges during the takedown of a major opioid mill in Paterson, where over 17,000 wax folds of suspected heroin and fentanyl were seized. Detectives seized rubber ink stamps – used to stamp brands on wax folds – bearing the same brand names that have been linked to 18 overdoses, including 10 fatal overdoses.
The arrests and seizures are the result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau and the Paterson Police Department Narcotics Division.
Rafael Brito, aka “Chiquito,” 33, and his girlfriend, Rosanny Prado, 38, were arrested yesterday at their residence in the first block of East 36th Street in Paterson on the following charges:
Maintaining or Operating a Narcotics Production Facility (1st degree)
Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute (1st degree)
Fortifying a Narcotics Manufacturing/Distribution Facility (3rd degree)
Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute Within 1,000 Feet of a School (3rd degree)
Possession of Heroin (3rd degree)
During execution of a search warrant at the home, detectives discovered an active opioid mill in the basement, where they seized over 17,000 wax folds of suspected heroin and fentanyl along with milling equipment and packaging materials. The residence was equipped with numerous surveillance cameras connected to two video monitors set up over the tables in the basement where the drugs were processed.
Ink stamps were seized bearing brand names linked to 10 fatal and 8 nonfatal overdoses: “Empire” (4 fatal, 5 nonfatal overdoses); “Panda” (3 fatal overdoses); “100%” (2 fatal overdoses); “777” (1 fatal overdose); “Bat” (1 nonfatal overdose); “BEE” (1 nonfatal overdose); “Call Me” (1 nonfatal overdose).
“By shutting down this drug mill and preventing over 17,000 doses of suspected heroin and fentanyl from reaching our communities, we undoubtedly saved lives, particularly given the fact that we seized ink stamps bearing brand names that have been linked to at least 10 fatal overdoses,” said Attorney General Grewal.
“Through collaborative investigations of this type, we’re arresting the drug traffickers who callously gamble with the lives of drug users by carelessly mixing and distributing this lethal combination of opioids.”
“Paterson is a regional hub for opioid distribution, with many drug users and suppliers coming into the city to obtain heroin from the northern suburbs of New Jersey, as well as New York and Pennsylvania,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice.
“We will continue to work closely with the Paterson Police Department and our other law enforcement partners to disrupt this major opioid market.”
“We appreciate the cooperation of our state partners to make Paterson safer and improve the quality of life for our residents,” said Paterson Police Chief Ibrahim M. Baycora.
“The sum is definitely greater than the parts when it comes to this kind of teamwork among law enforcement agencies to stop drug trafficking. We will continue to work together to protect our city and fight the opioid epidemic.”
Deputy Attorney General Anna Gildea is prosecuting the case for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cynthia Vazquez and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis.
The investigation was conducted by detectives of the DCJ Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Christopher Donohue and Chief Weldon Powell, and the Paterson Police Department Narcotics Division, under the supervision of Captain Bert Rebeiro.
Attorney General Grewal thanked the Paterson Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Ibrahim M. Baycora and Director Jerry Speziale.
He also thanked the New Jersey State Police for their valuable assistance.
Brito and Prado are being held in the Passaic County Jail pending detention hearings.
The first-degree narcotics charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, with a fine of up to $500,000 for the possession with intent charge, and up to $750,000 for the production facility charge.
The third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.