13 people were arrested on Friday for distributing prescription drugs throughout northern New Jersey, announced the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Fidel Gonzalez, 31, a city resident, was arrested along with 12 others on Friday. Authorities say Gonzalez was the ring leader in a drug distribution network that operated out of the city distributing prescription drugs like Oxycodone throughout Passaic and Essex and Bergen counties.
Police from Paterson, Wayne, Passaic, Clifton, Hawthorne, Little Falls, Totowa, Wanaque, William Paterson University, the Department of Homeland Security, Garfield, North Caldwell, and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office ran a six month long investigation that resulted in today’s arrests.
Out of the 13 six are city residents: Victor Torres, 33; McCoy Whitaker, 19; Andrew Jackson, 19; Sherelyn Diaz, 45; Oscar Jones, Jr., 24. The rest are from surrounding towns: Carol Darwiche, 35, and Michael Basante, 26, of Totowa; James Lamendola, 35, and Stephanie Raftery, 38, of Little Falls; Michael Grazioso, Jr., 27, and Anthony Grazioso, Jr., 21, both residents of North Caldwell; and Toni Alvarado, 49, a resident of Garfield.
“During the months of November 2013 through March of 2014, the joint investigation revealed that Fidel Gonzalez illegally distributed prescription drugs, specifically Oxycodone, throughout various locations in the City of Paterson,” according to the prosecutor’s office. Torres served as a “connect” or provider of Oxycodone which Gonzalez, then distributed.
Authorities raided the city homes of Gonzalez, Jackson, and Whitaker. Police also raided the North Caldwell home of Anthony Grazioso Jr. Police found drugs and thousands of dollars that they confiscated from the homes. “Law enforcement officials recovered a quantity of prescription legend drugs, cocaine, marijuana, MDMA (Ecstacy), a 2007 Cadillac SRX, a 2009 BMW 328, and approximately $15,300,” according to authorities.
Authorities have charged Whitaker, Andrew Jackson, and Torres with conspiracy to distribute “prescription legend drugs in excess of 100 doses.” The rest were charged with drug related offenses, according to authorities.
Gonzalez has been charged as the leader of the “Narcotics Trafficking Network.” He could face life in prison if convicted on the charge. “The leader of a narcotics network charge carries a sentence of life imprisonment during which the person must serve 25 years before eligible for parole,” said authorities.