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Heroin-Trafficking Ring Busted In Monmouth County [AUDIO]

Fifty-two people were charged Monday after a massive drug sweep dismantled a major heroin-trafficking ring in Monmouth County.

Operation Hats Offsellers
Operation Hats Off sellers (Monmouth County Prosecutors Office)

Some of those arrested are members of a gang known as the “Fruit Town Brims,” a set of the “Bloods” street gang responsible for the distribution of significant quantities of heroin throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties, according to Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni.

The eight-month investigation, titled “Operation Hats Off,” began last spring. During the investigation, members of the Fruit Town Brims and their conspirators orchestrated and/or personally sold approximately 200 bricks (10,000 bags) of heroin per week, including more than 1,000 bags of heroin to undercover detectives on dozens of occasions.

More than 4,000 bricks of Heroin Trafficked

Overall, the criminal enterprise was responsible for the trafficking of more than 4,000 (200,000 bags) bricks of heroin during the course of the investigation. Law enforcement seized more than 300 bricks (15,000 bags) of heroin and approximately 17,000 in U.S. currency.

“The message is this…I will not tolerate this in Monmouth County. Don’t bring it here because we have eyes and ears everywhere, we are paying attention and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law,” said Gramiccioni.

Arrests net ringleaders, suppliers, buyers

Two of the ringleaders of the criminal enterprise – Ronald Daniels, Jr., 23, of Long Branch and Anna Flores, 21, of Highlands – conspired with several other gang members to distribute heroin throughout Monmouth County and elsewhere.

“They come from all walks of life in several different places in the county, not just places like Neptune and Asbury Park, but towns like Red Bank, Bayville and Brick,” said Gramiccioni.

Those other members include: Christopher Moon, 21, of Highlands; Ezra Strong, 22, of Long Branch; Donte Gilliard, 22, of Long Branch; Dashawn Graves, 20, of Newark; Damier Johnson, 22, of Long Branch; and Hakeem Wadud, 22, of Paterson. These defendants, along with a number of others, were charged with racketeering conspiracy for their involvement in the ongoing criminal enterprise.

The primary heroin suppliers for the above-mentioned defendants were Hassain Jenkins, 39, of Orange, Roger Barber, 40, of Newark, and Louis Pennington, a/k/a “Gangsta,” 29, of Long Branch. Daniels and other members of the Fruit Town Brims gang arranged for the repeated purchase and transport of large quantities of heroin from Essex County and, once received, the product was sold to a number of buyers throughout the area.

Buyers charged as part of the operation resided in several locations throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties, including towns such as Oceanport, West Long Branch, Rumson, Eatontown, Red Bank, Bayville, Little Silver and Sea Bright.

During the course of this investigation, law enforcement officers developed information that led to seizures of significant amounts of heroin, cash and firearms from members of this criminal enterprise. For example, on November 19, law enforcement officers recovered approximately 100 bricks of heroin from an automobile in Eatontown during a routine vehicle stop.

On December 13, law enforcement officers stopped Jenkins and Barber on the eastbound side of Route 36 in Tinton Falls. During that stop, officers recovered two packages, each containing 100 bricks (5,000 bags) of heroin. As a result, both Jenkins and Barber were charged with narcotics-related offenses and remain incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in lieu of bail.

Search Warrant Reveals Additional $130k in Heroin

Similarly, on December 13, officers executed a search warrant at 245 Atlantic Avenue, Apartment 219 in Long Branch. While executing the warrant, officers recovered approximately 130 bricks (6,500 bags) of heroin and approximately $10,000 in cash. The estimated value of the heroin recovered is $130,000. Three individuals at the residence – Michael Marshall, 62 of Long Branch, Tau Kamau, a/k/a “Kevin Smith,” 40, of Long Branch, and Ronald Daniels, Sr., 42, of Long Branch – were charged with narcotics-related offenses and also remain incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in lieu of bail.

Searches simultaneously executed on December 17 at 1401 Rustic Drive, Apt. 13 in Ocean Township, and 22 Fourth Street in Highlands, resulted in the seizure of additional quantities of narcotics, firearms and cash. To date, law enforcement has seized three firearms and five vehicles used in support of the criminal enterprise. Quantities of cocaine and marijuana were also seized during the course of the investigation.

“Heroin is so pure in New Jersey and so highly addictive that the other message is prevention. We need to do more to stop kids from getting their hands on this stuff and abusing it,” said Gramiccioni.

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