New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has announced the takedown of a Harrison fentanyl and heroin ring linked to 227 overdoses and 84 deaths.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Based on the evidence seized, it is estimated that the drug mill, set up in a luxury apartment at 300 Somerset St. in Harrison, was supplying 15,000 doses of fentanyl and heroin per day, the AG’s office said in a media release.
Timothy Guest, 45, of Irvington, allegedly operated the mill with associates working under him, including William Woodley, 27, of Belleville, and Selionel Orama, 25, of Cedar Grove, authorities said.
Those men were arrested one week ago on Thursday, March 14. They face first- and second-degree drug charges, including a charge of maintaining a narcotics production facility.
“We prevented countless doses of fentanyl and heroin from reaching drug users by taking down this mill, and given that the stamps seized bear the same names as drugs linked to 84 deaths, we may have saved many lives,” Grewal said in a statement.
“This operation reflects a proactive and collaborative strategy in which we recently deployed a new State Police task force, supported by a $2.8 million federal COPS grant, to target drug mills and other major drug sources as choke points in the supply line of these deadly opioids. This case is an early and tremendous victory for the Opioid Enforcement Task Force and our new strategy.”
According to officials, the operation distributed its narcotics in wax folds stamped with the same brand names that have been linked to 227 overdoses, including 84 deaths.
Furthermore, approximately 32,500 individual doses and four kilos of fentanyl and heroin were seized in the investigation.
The New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force was conducting surveillance in the area of the mill in Harrison on March 14 when they saw Guest leave the apartment building with a black duffel bag suspected to contain drugs and enter a Cadillac XTS.
When State Police attempted to stop the Cadillac, Guest allegedly fled, striking two occupied troop cars. The Cadillac became disabled and detectives placed Guest under arrest.
Meanwhile, Woodley and Orama fled from the mill building and also were arrested.
Investigators found 150 bricks of fentanyl in the black duffel bag in the Cadillac XTS. A brick consists of 50 individual doses of narcotics packaged in wax folds.
Inside the drug mill, they seized three kilograms of fentanyl, one kilogram of heroin mixed with fentanyl, 500 bricks of fentanyl (approximately 25,000 individual doses containing fentanyl packaged for distribution), and drug milling equipment, including 29 coffee grinders, kilo presses, wax folds, and respirator masks.
They also found 43 rubber ink stamps used to stamp brands on the wax folds. Information obtained from police reports throughout the state indicates that 25 of those stamps bear the same brand names that have been linked to a total of 227 overdoses, including 84 fatal overdoses.
The stamp logos included a plethora of pop culture references including “Tom Brady,” “El Chapo,” “Fat Albert,” “Frosted Flakes” and “Training Day.”
At a second location in Secaucus that allegedly was used by Guest as a “stash house” to store proceeds from his illicit narcotics distribution, investigators seized approximately $200,000 in cash, a Bentley convertible worth an estimated $400,000, and a Range Rover worth an estimated $130,000, police said.
All three men arrested were charged with maintaining a narcotics production facility, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, possession of fentanyl and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The arrests were made in an ongoing investigation by the New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force and the Division of Criminal Justice.
They were assisted by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, Cliffside Park Police, Nutley Police, Harrison Police and Newark Police.