Seven people accused of operating two heroin mills out of apartments on Spring Street and East 18th Street have been indicted, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. Monday’s indictment stems from a March 29 investigation led by the New Jersey State Police which saw the arrest of four city men and two out-of-towners.
Indicted were city residents Manuel E. Perez-Guerrero, 27; Jose Romero-Rivera, 41; Franklin Mejia, 43; Juan E. Perez-Guerrero, 22; Lakey S. Guerra-Pujols, 29, of Oakfield, New York; Alexsander Padro, 23, of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Indicted as also Perez-Guerrero’s wife Rosaline Engracia Ulloa, 23.
Ulloa was not arrested when authorities busted the two heroin mills seizing approximately a pound of heroin and two handguns. She is being charged with second degree conspiracy, third degree money laundering, fourth degree possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of hollow-point bullets.
Romero-Rivera whose home in Spring Street authorities raided recovering five ounces of heroin, items used for heroin milling like grinders, masks, wax folds, and empty kilo wrappers is charged with first degree heroin possession with intent to distribute and maintaining a heroin production facility, second degree conspiracy, two-count unlawful passion of a handgun, two-count possession of a firearm while committing a drug offense, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, third degree possession of a stolen firearm, possession of heroin, and fourth degree additional drug and weapon charges.
Search of Romero-Rivera’s apartment also yielded a loaded .45 caliber Ruger semi-automatic pistol with a silencer.
Manuel E. Perez-Guerrero whose garbage bag shuttered 18th Avenue apartment was searched yielding $16,841 in cash, equipment for heroin milling like a kilo press, stamps, a scale, cutting agents, and a.40-caliber Glock handgun with illegal hollow-point bullets is charged first degree maintaining a heroin production facility, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, second degree conspiracy, two-count unlawful possession of a handgun, two-count possession of a firearm while committing a drug offense, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, third degree possession of a stolen firearm, possession of heroin, and fourth degree additional drug and weapon charges.
Covering apartment windows is an anti-detection technique used at heroin mills to guard against law enforcement notice.
“The heroin and handguns seized in this case speak to the grave danger posed by these alleged drug dealers,” said acting attorney general John Hoffman. “Heroin and illegal firearms are the twin scourges that are wracking our communities with addiction, overdoses and drug-related gun violence.”
Authorities searched two vehicles with electronic hidden drug storage compartment the team of seven alleged drug dealers were using to transport their packaged heroin. Detectives recovered more than five ounces of heroin from the hidden compartment of a Nissan Quest used by the dealers. Inside the vehicle was also a Taurus .38-caliber revolver and four hollow-point bullets.
A Ford Explorer that Perez-Guerrero was driving in Hackensack with Guerra-Pujols in the passenger seat yielded 160 bricks of heroin and a box of bullets stashed away inside a hidden compartment. Authorities pulled over the vehicle arresting Guerra-Pujols and Juan E. Perez-Guerrero.
Guerra-Pujols is charged with second degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute, conspiracy, third degree possession of heroin, and fourth degree possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to distribute.
Juan E. Perez-Guerrero is charged with second degree conspiracy, possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, third degree possession of heroin, and fourth degree possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to distribute, according to authorities.
Mejia is charged with first degree maintaining a heroin production facility, posession of heroin with intent to distribute, second degree conspiracy, two-count unlawful possession of a handgun, two-count possession of a firearm while committing a drug offense, third-degree possession of a stolen firearm, possession of heroin, and fourth degree additional drug and weapon charges.
First degree crimes carry 10-20 year prison terms. First degree possession with intent to distribute carry fines up to $500,000. Maintaining heroin production facility carries fines up to $750,000.
Second degree crimes carry up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $150,000. Charge of possession of firearm as a convicted felon carries a mandatory five-year sentence without parole eligibility.
Third degree crimes carry sentences up to 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000. Fourth degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18-month prison term with fine up to $10,000.
“Through their excellent work, the State Police brought us a strong conspiracy case and seized enough heroin and related paraphernalia for milling heroin to charge the co-conspirators with first- and second-degree drug offenses,” said director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Because of their conduct, these defendants now face lengthy prison sentences.”
If convicted the seven face lengthy prison sentences.
“This was an outstanding investigation spearheaded by our Drug Trafficking North Unit,” said Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “These indictments send the strong, positive message to our communities that we will continue to root out these operations and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”