Largest drug bust in Atlantic County history nets 15 kilos

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP- A Pleasantville man and an Egg Harbor Township man are charged with conspiring to distribute heroin following  an investigation that led to one of the largest narcotics seizures in Atlantic County’s history, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner announced.

Ricardo Clavijo, 39, of Egg Harbor Township and Christopher Gonzalez, 37, of Pleasantville were each charged on July 13, 2021, by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for various narcotics and weapons charges.

The defendants are charged with Conspiring to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute over 1 kilogram of heroin.

“By all accounts, this case represents the largest single seizure of drugs in the history of Atlantic County.  I cannot emphasize enough that this case could not have been accomplished without the collaborative work of the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said.

On July 12, 2021, detectives from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Gangs, Guns & Narcotics Unit, agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and officers from the Egg Harbor Township Police Department, Linwood Police K-9 Unit and members of the Atlantic County Regional SWAT Team executed a search warrant at the Egg Harbor Township of Calvijo. They encountered Clavijo at the front door and Gonzalez in the basement.

“I am very proud of the work our law enforcement partners are doing to fight the effects that drugs are having on the citizens and visitors of Atlantic  County and our State.  In Atlantic County we are committed to our fight to lower our overdoses and drug related deaths through a combination of  enforcement  actions and treatment programs.  An investigation with a seizure of this caliber is going to save a lot of lives,” said Atlantic County Chief County Investigators Bruce K. DeShields.

In the basement of the home, law enforcement officers discovered the following narcotics, weapons and other items:

5 kilogram-sized packages of suspected fentanyl

8 kilogram-sized packages of suspected fentanyl or cocaine

2 kilogram-sized packages of suspected heroin

Tens of thousands of pre-packaged individual doses of suspected heroin

One .45 caliber handgun, a loaded magazine for the handgun, and a 9mm 50-round drum magazine.

Additional narcotics packaging material, paraphernalia and an electronic money counter were also seized by law enforcement on Monday, July 12, 2021.

“I want to thank all of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners for their diligence and hard work that resulted in the arrests and seizure of several millions of dollars of drugs.  I want to thank them for the lives they saved and the violence they disrupted by seeing this case through.  This is further proof that our detectives are working day and night to make our county safer.  I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner.

Both defendants appeared by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio and were detained without bail.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the members of the DEA Atlantic County HIDTA Task Force,” said Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division. “The large quantities of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine seized have prevented an untold amount of potential fatal overdoses in the Atlantic County region. A drug seizure of this size has made the area safer, and we will continue to dismantle and disrupt these criminal organizations,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson.

The conspiracy count is punishable by a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life in prison and a fine of $10 million, or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greatest.

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