32 residents charged in massive heroin distribution ring at the Jersey Shore
Monmouth County Prosecutors have wrapped up a 16-month investigation dubbed "Operation Finished Business" where 32 people have been charged from their roles in a large scale heroin distribution ring in the Bayshore Region, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni.
While all 32 have been charged, only 28 have been arrested with the other 4 individuals remain at-large and are considered fugitives from justice.
Investigators say members of this heroin trafficking network sold mass quantities of fentanyl-laced heroin daily to people across the Jersey Shore.
There were over 20,000 bags of heroin a month sold on the streets worth a value of between $200,000.00 and $400,000.00.
The network was run from multiple homes and apartments across Monmouth and Ocean Counties, while heroin supply was routinely replenished with trips to Newark.
Investigators ran searches pursuant to warrants at locations in Monmouth, Ocean and Essex Counties which also resulted in the seizure of 3,200 bags of heroin, approximately $12,000 cash, eight vehicles, two motorcycles and one trailer all believed to be used in connection with the illegal sale of narcotics.
According to documents filed in this case and information developed during this investigation, Defendant Anthony Distaulo, 33, of Jackson, acted as the leader of this heroin trafficking network.
Distaulo is charged with first degree Leader of a Narcotics Trafficking Network, second-degree Conspiracy, first-degree Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance with intent to Distribute, first-degree Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, and third-degree Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance.
He is being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold Township awaiting a pretrial detention hearing scheduled for April 22, 2019, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge James J. McGann.
While Distaulo acted as the leader of the heroin trafficking ring, investigators learned that eight others conspired with Distaulo and acted as accomplices in their efforts to distribute narcotics throughout the Bayshore:
- Joseph Bartucci, 32, of Keansburg.
- Anthony Distaulo’s mother Mechelle Distaulo, 52, of Brick.
- Kate Ellis, 28, of Jackson.
- James Granberg, 42, of Keyport.
- Khalil Hill a/k/a “Drama”, 35, of Newark.
- Kayleigh Leonard, 30, of Jackson.
- Vincent Mielnicki, 39, of Union Beach.
- Matthew Rowland, 34, of Red Bank.
These eight individuals are each charged with second degree Conspiracy, first degree Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance with Intent to Distribute, first degree Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, and third degree Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance.
Bartucci, Ellis, Granberg, Hill, Leonard, Mielnicki, and Rowland are being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution awaiting pretrial detention hearings on April 22, 2019 before Judge McGann.
Mechelle Distaulo remains at-large at this time.
The investigation also led to charges against 23 people who were purchasing narcotics from one or more of the distributors of this heroin trafficking network:
- Brianne Benedetto, 29, of Millstone.
- Barbara Bryk, 51, and her husband Randy Bryk, 54, both of the Port Monmouth section of Middletown.
- Keith Chanley, 28, of South Amboy.
- Matthew Demko, 38, of Keyport.
- Nicole Fox, 33, of Keansburg.
- Eric Greer, 55, of Morganville.
- Kyle Groat, 31, of Middletown.
- Ashley Groc, 25, of South Amboy.
- Emily Heun, 34, of the Leonardo section of Middletown.
- David Isaksen, 42, of Leonardo section of Middletown.
- Jacquelin Kelly, 53, of Keansburg.
- Veronica Lapsley, 42, of Keansburg.
- Sean LaFata, 35, of Keyport.
- Brittany Matias, 23, of Port Monmouth section of Middletown.
- DebbieJo Mezzacappa, 29, of Leonardo section of Middletown.
- Ranya Mobarak, 31, of Hazlet.
- Daniel Notaroberto, 32, of Middletown.
- Anthony Pane a/k/a “Bug”, 28, of Hazlet.
- Anthony Schiano, 30, of Keyport.
- Alfred Valli, 54, of Middletown.
- Kurt Westendorf, 60, of Keansburg.
- Melissa Whiteman, 30, of Hazlet.
All 23 individuals were each charged with third degree Conspiracy to Possess a Controlled Dangerous Substance and third degree Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance.
Benedetto, Isaksen, and Mezzacappa remain at-large at this time.
The investigation into this narcotics trafficking network remains active and ongoing.
Anyone with information concerning the any of the individuals charged, or the whereabouts of the defendants still at-large, should contact Detective Adam Mendes of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-800-533-7443 ext. 4832.
Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers confidential telephone tip-line by calling 1-800-671-4400; can text “MONMOUTH” plus their tip to 274637; or, they can email a tip via the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com.
Monmouth County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of criminals and fugitives.
“This investigation deals a critical blow to a narcotics trafficking network that has plagued the towns and neighborhoods in the Bayshore region for a long time," Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni said. "The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Unit and Bayshore Narcotics Task Force are committed to ending the epidemic of fatal overdoses and opioid abuse that is unfortunately so prevalent in our community today. Thanks to the excellent work by this team of investigators, the flow of these deadly drugs into our community has been significantly disrupted. Heroin, and specifically heroin laced with fentanyl, represents an unacceptable threat to lives in this community."
Prosecutor Gramiccioni credited numerous law enforcement agencies for their hard work and dedication to the investigation: Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Essex County Sheriff’s Office, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Aberdeen Police Department, Atlantic Highlands Police Department, Eatontown Police Department, Hazlet Police Department, Holmdel Police Department, Howell Police Department, Jackson Police Department, Keansburg Police Department, Keyport Police Department, Matawan Police Department, Middletown Police Department, Red Bank Police Department, Tinton Falls Police Department, and Union Beach Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutors Merlin K. Thomas and William A. Visone of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
The charges brought following these arrests carry the following state prison sentences:
First degree offenses:
Leader of Narcotics Trafficking Network – Life in Prison.
Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance with Intent to Distribute – 10 to 20 years.
Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – 10 to 20 years.
Second degree offenses:
Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance with Intent to Distribute – 5 to 10 years.
Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – 5 to 10 years.
Conspiracy – 5 to 10 years.
Third degree offenses:
Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance- 3 to 5 years.
Conspiracy – 3 to 5 years.
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