Police decimated a major drug distribution ring supplying heroin and cocaine across five counties in New Jersey March 17, arresting 18 people across the state.
The joint investigation between local and state police began in October, focused on the daily influx of heroin and other narcotics into Morris County. Investigators quickly focused their efforts on 23-year-old Kevin O. Ruiz of Elmwood Park, who was found to be the mastermind of the operation, reports WABC.
Ruiz would distribute various drugs, predominantly heroin, to buyers in bulk amounts, who would then redistribute the drugs in areas including Jefferson Township, Rockaway Township, Hackettstown and Hackensack. Police also observed Ruiz personally supply roughly 4,000 doses of heroin and 130 bags of crack cocaine worth roughly $12,000 over a 25 day period.
“This intensive investigation and subsequent arrests of for profit drug distributors would not have been possible without the cooperation of our municipal law enforcement agencies, other County Prosecutors and the New Jersey State Police,” Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp told WABC. “We will continue to work together and target heroin dealers that sell these deadly substances in Morris County.”
Ruiz faces multiple charges of conspiracy possession and distribution of heroin, cocaine and Percocet. Additionally he faces charges of possession of a firearm while committing a drug offense. The other individuals arrested face counts of conspiracy possession of heroin and distribution.
Police are making recent headway against major trafficking operations feeding addiction in the U.S. A two-year investigation by officials in Pennsylvania dubbed “Operation Crushed Ice” recently ended in 49 arrests. The drug ring extended across the U.S. from the Delaware Valley to Arizona and even Puerto Rico.
Police seized undisclosed amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and prescription narcotics during a number of raids conducted in January.
GOP Gov. Chris Christie declared the opioid epidemic a public health crisis Jan. 17 in New Jersey, which has a death rate from heroin higher than the national average. There are roughly 128,000 heroin addicts in the state and health experts fear that number is likely growing. Heroin deaths spiked 22 percent between 2014 and 2015 and the state doubled the national drug overdose death rate with 1,600 fatalities in 2015.
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