Nine members of a Freehold Borough cocaine distribution ring were arrested Thursday after a nine month long investigation dubbed Operation Snowball. Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said the group was moving approximately 1/3 kilogram of cocaine a week. 

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The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Narcotics Office and Criminal Enterprise Unit led the investigation which resulted in the arrest of Hugo Hernandez who was the leader of the ring based primarily in Freehold Borough.

A total of five search warrants were executed simultaneously Thursday, four in Freehold Borough and one in New Brunswick leading to the arrest of nine people. The investigation revealed that Hernandez supplied lower level dealers, including his brother. The lower level dealers delivered cocaine at the direction of Hernandez to locations in downtown Freehold Borough.

Over 721 grams of cocaine and $14,943 were also seized.

The arrests were made with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force; DEA Monmouth High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area working group; DEA Special Response Team, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office; Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office; Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office; and the Asbury Park, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Tinton Falls, Freehold Borough, Manalapan Township, Franklin Township, New Brunswick, Highlands, Middletown Township, Holmdel Township, Keansburg, and Hazlet Township police departments.

The following people people were arrested:

  • Hugo Hernandez, 48, of Freehold Borough, is charged with one count each of first degree Leader of a Narcotics Trafficking Network; second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine; third degree Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine; first degree Distribution of Cocaine;  eight counts of second degree Distribution of Cocaine; eight counts of second degree Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute; one count of third degree Distribution of Cocaine; one count of third degree Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute; nine counts of third degree Possession of Cocaine; and one count of first degree Distribution of Cocaine.
  • Lucino Roldan-Coria, 58, of Freehold Borough, a/k/a Rufino Roldan, is charged with one count each of second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine; third degree Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine; three counts of second degree Distribution of Cocaine; three counts of second degree Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute; two counts of third degree Distribution of Cocaine: two counts of third degree Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute; five counts of third degree Possession of Cocaine; and one count of first degree Distribution of Cocaine.
  • Carlos Hernandez-Campos, 35, of New Brunswick, is charged with one count each of second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine; third degree Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine; two counts of second degree Distribution of Cocaine; two counts of second degree Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute; two counts of third degree Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute within 1,000 feet of School Property; two counts of third degree Distribution of Cocaine within 1,000 feet of School Property;  two counts of third degree Possession of Cocaine; and one count of first degree Distribution of Cocaine.
  • Antonio Romano-Jiminez, 29, of Freehold borough, a/k/a Merito Romero-Jimenez, is charged with one count each of second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine; third degree Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine; and first degree Distribution of Cocaine.
  • Miguel Garcia-Tapia, 30, of Freehold Borough, is charged with one count each of second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine; third degree Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine; third degree Distribution of Cocaine; third degree Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute; third degree Possession of Cocaine; and first degree Distribution of Cocaine.
  • Gregorio Morales-Morales, 35, of Manalapan, is charged with one count of third degree Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine.
  • John A. Depaola, 53,  of Jackson, is charged with one count of third degree Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine.
  • Roberto Tlapa De La Era, 35, of Freehold Borough, is charged with one count of third degree Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine.

The Leader of a Narcotics Trafficking Network charge carries a term of life imprisonment without being eligible for parole for 25 years. Each defendant faces a sentence of up to 20 years in a New Jersey state prison for the first degree offenses, five to ten for each count of the second degree offenses, and three to five if convicted of the third degree offenses.

Despite the charges every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.