Public Notices and Press Releases

Nine Arrested in Major Drug Trafficking Bust in Newark

Charges Include Distribution of Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Fentanyl, and Heroin

Nine individuals have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking organization operating in Newark, distributing fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

The arrested individuals are Jaquan Beard, 25, Joseph Feliciano, 40, Carlos Lopez, 50, George Lopez, 49, Tyree Malone, 36, and David Quinones, 29, all of Newark; Wilberto Cotto, 41, Reinaldo Cruz, 44, Steven Garcia, 48, Adolphus Hunter, 48, Jermaine Jones, 37, and Nelson Valentin, 37, all of Elizabeth, New Jersey; Joel Hernandez, 28, of Parlin, New Jersey; Jonathan Arce, 36, of Belleville, New Jersey; and Jose Correa, 53, of Yardley, Pennsylvania. 

They face charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin. Additional charges against George Lopez include possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Reynaldo Cruz, 27, of Elizabeth, is charged with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to use and carry a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

Quinones and Cruz are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court today. Several other defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer on May 16, 2024, and were detained. Jones, George Lopez, and Valentin are detained on state charges. Beard, Correa, Garcia, and Malone are currently at large.

According to court documents and statements, the defendants distributed controlled substances across Essex and Union counties, New Jersey, from several specific locations. The investigation revealed that the drug trafficking organization (DTO) distributed over 50 grams of methamphetamine, 5 kilograms of cocaine, 40 grams of fentanyl, and 100 grams of heroin. Many of the defendants are linked to the Latin Kings street gang and are known to possess firearms related to their drug activities.

The penalties for the charges include a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison for the methamphetamine and cocaine conspiracy count, with a maximum potential of life in prison and a $10 million fine. Other charges carry varying mandatory minimums and maximum penalties, including up to 40 years in prison for the fentanyl and heroin conspiracy counts and up to 20 years for possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited the collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Union County Prosecutor’s Office, Elizabeth Police Department, Union County Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations Newark, Essex County Sheriff's Department, Hudson County Department of Corrections, Cranford Police Department, Bloomfield Police Department, New Jersey State Police SWAT Team, Newark Police Department, Hudson County Regional SWAT Team, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Mezzanotte and Eli Jacobs. The charges in the complaint are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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