Two heroin networks smashed in twin probes, say authorities
Two networks suspected of moving tens of thousands of hits of heroin each week through Ocean, Monmouth, Atlantic, and Union Counties and Philadelphia are simultaneously shut down and 34 suspects are identified in a two-pronged probe centered in Ocean County.
The investigations, tabbed Operation Broken Rule and Operation Sin City, had their headquarters in the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office beginning in December 2014 and entailed 40 extra law enforcement agents for its Special Operations Group, according to information from county Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.
Arrestees, ranging in age from 19 to 45, are accused of roles in the import of more than a kilogram, or more than 50-thousand doses, each week into Ocean County, authorities said.
Three of the suspects are still on the run from law enforcement, and more arrests are expected, authorities said.
Investigators from 43 departments from local to federal levels took part in the probe. Confiscated in multiple warrant searches were almost 31,000 doses worth more than $325,000, along with about $140,000 cash, a TEC-9 assault weapon and five other firearms, and 14 motor vehicles, one with an electronic trap for hiding the drugs, authorities said.
Jonathan "Sin" Gonzalez, 32, of Toms River and Pleasantville, allegedly oversaw import of packaged and raw heroin for distribution in Ocean and Atlantic Counties, and was the focus of Operation Sin City, authorities said.
On the night of April 23, investigators shadowed Gonzalez returning to Toms River from Philadelphia with raw heroin and packaging materials, along with Faythe Darling, 29, of Toms River, and Misasia S. Johnson, 21, of Barnegat, authorities said. They were arrested on Route 70 in Manchester after being flagged to the roadside by police.
Search warrants executed at the same time in Toms River, Barnegat, South Toms River, Brick Township and Pleasantville yielded about 25 grams of heroin, packaged doses of the drug, cash, packing materials, and four cars suspected of use in the ring.
Bertrick "King Rule" Artis, 45, and his son Ashzon Artis, 25, of Lakewood, were targeted in Operation Broken Rule. They are accused of importing heroin to Ocean County from Elizabeth.
The probe reached its climax on the night of March 31 at a shopping mall in Elzabeth. Operatives from the Ocean and Union County Prosecutors' Offices and Elizabeth police intercepted Bertrick and Ashzon Artis and Angelique Morris, 23, of Tinton Falls, in an attempted buy from Javier Cruz, 25, and Kennin Chavez, 19, of Bronx, NY, authorities said.
Search warrants executed at the same time in Lakewood, Toms River, Lakehurst, Barnegat, Waretown and Jackson Township resulted in seizures of heroin, cash, illegal weapons including an assault-style firearm, and packaging materials, authorities said.
Additional "Broken Rule" suspects are Joseph Collins of Waretown; Tora Evans of Brick; Tira Fisher, Kevin Hunter, Tarell Jones, Monik Powell, Anthony Wright Jr., and Michael Harris of Lakewood; Rayquan Hagan and Jalisha M. Rivera of Jackson; Jason Livingston of Toms River; Toni Sisler of Lanoka Harbor; and Daren Smith of Barnegat.
Additional "Sin City" suspects are Joseph Gonzalez of Brick; Joseph Cruz of Lakewood; Kellyann Lomberk of Manchester; Adam Bertolo of Howell; Alicia D. Noble and Oniesha T. Noble of Pleasantville; Jaclyn Guzman, Melanie Cornelisse, Calvin Hardy, Lori Kemerson-Mackey, Timothy Mackey, Joshua Maken, Jennifer Swain, and Amber Pomponio, all of Toms River; and Rachelle Porter of South Toms River.
Harris, Pomponio and Cruz have yet to be taken into custody and are considered fugitives from justice. Anyone knowing their whereabouts is urged to call Ocean County's Special Operations Group, 732-341-6150.