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California-to-NJ Marijuana Operation Smashed, Investigators Say

An alleged marijuana network that spanned the distance between the Jersey Shore and California is upended in a detailed probe that has 10 suspects under arrest.

Jollies candy that were confiscated as part of “Operation Growin Up”
Jollies candy that were confiscated as part of “Operation Growin Up” (Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office)

“Operation Growin Up” began in January of this year and culminated with warrant searches in Ocean and Monmouth Counties and Redding, California this past Tuesday, according to information from the office of Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.

It involved 27 separate law enforcement units on local, county, state and federal levels, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Aiport.

Searches took place in Toms River, Point Pleasant, Brick Township, Manasquan, Tinton Falls, Spring Lake Heights and Redding, California.

Investigators seized about 120 pounds of weed with a street value of about $400,000, along with a sizeable haul of the marijuana candy known as Jollies, for its resemblance to Jolly Rancher candies, authorities said.

The searches also yielded about $350,000 cash, tens of thousands of dollars more in bank accounts believed to hold proceeds from sales, a stash of firearms including a loaded Kimber .45-caliber handgun and an assault-type rifle, investigators said.

The suspects face a variety of possession, distribution and production-related charges. Three were released on summonses for possession. The rest, facing more serious counts, were dunned with bail amounts from $75,000 top $200,000, with no 10-percent payment options for release.

Arrestees are Christopher Brophy, 29, and Virginia Kennedy, 57, Point Pleasant; Timothy Korber, 30, Toms River; Andres Abad, 24, and Michael Schneider, 20, Brick Township; Gregory Killian, 39, and Amy Killian, 32, Spring Lake Heights; Robert Mitchell, 28, Tinton Falls; William Brad Fraley, 29, West Long Branch; and Michael Farr, 35, Redding, California.

Brophy, Korber and Farr are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 25 pounds of marijuana and knowingly operating and maintaining a CDS production facility. Brophy’s bail was set at $200,000, Korber’s and Farr’s at $150,000, authorities said.

Gregory Killian, Abad, Mitchell and Fraley are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 25 pounds of marijuana. Fraely’s bail was set at $100,000, the rest at $75,000.

Amy Killian, Kennedy, and Schneider were released on summonses.

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