Police arrest 19 in statewide heroin distribution ring out of Newark

Newark, N.J. – The New Jersey State Police have arrested 19 suspects and dismantled 3 drug mills producing heroin in Newark, N.J. during an eight-month investigation dubbed “Operation Falling Spires.” The suspects distributed narcotics in wax folds stamped with the same brand names that have been linked to 15 fatal and 42 nonfatal overdoses across New Jersey.

In December 2020, detectives with the New Jersey State Police Gangs and Organized Crime North Unit began investigating alleged drug activity at the Garden Spires community complex in Newark, N.J. Based on information obtained during the investigation, detectives discovered that multiple drug mills were being operated out of the complex and were a distribution point for narcotics in the area.

On May 19, detectives with the State Police Gangs and Organized Crime North Unit along with members of the Trafficking North, Crime Suppression North, T.E.A.M.S, K9, Fugitive, Aviation, Troop “B” Tactical Patrol, Crime Scene Investigations North, and Hazmat Units, United States Marshal Service, Newark Police Department, and Paterson Police Department executed search warrants at 7 apartments in the Garden Spires complex. As a result of the searches, detectives arrested 9 suspects and seized 4 guns, 500 grams of heroin/fentanyl mixture, 5 grams of crack, hollow point ammunition, high-capacity magazines, narcotics packaging materials, and several different stamps used to brand packaged narcotics.

Drug traffickers market their “brand” of drug by ink-stamping the outside of a wax fold with a unique image, word, or phrase such as “Frank Lucas,” and “SRT,” which are all examples of stamps that were recovered. The stamps “Frank Lucas” and “SRT” have been linked to a total of five fatal overdoses in New Jersey.

During the on-going investigation, detectives arrested an additional 10 suspects. The following suspects have been charged:

Taakiya Grant, 33, of Newark, N.J.
• Maintaining a heroin/fentanyl production facility
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Possession with intent to distribute CDS paraphernalia
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl
• Possessing a firearm while conspiring to manufacture and distribute heroin/fentanyl
• Receiving stolen property

Derrol Nickels, 51, of Newark, N.J.
• Maintaining a heroin/fentanyl production facility
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Possession with intent to distribute CDS paraphernalia
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of CDS within 500 feet of a park
• Distribution of CDS within 1000 feet of a school

Tashan Black, 22, of Newark, N.J.
• Maintaining a heroin/fentanyl production facility
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Possession with intent to distribute CDS paraphernalia
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of CDS within 500 feet of a park
• Distribution of CDS within 1000 feet of a school
• Possession of a high-capacity magazine

Jihad Snead, 28, of Newark, N.J.
• Maintaining a heroin/fentanyl production facility
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of CDS within 500 feet of a park
• Distribution of CDS within 1000 feet of a school
• Conspiracy

Ibrahim Bennett, 35, of Newark, N.J.
• Maintaining a heroin/fentanyl production facility
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of CDS within 500 feet of a park
• Distribution of CDS within 1000 feet of a school
• Conspiracy

Isaiah Parrish, 23, of Newark, N.J.
• Possession of a stolen handgun
• Possession of hollow-point ammunition
• Possession of large capacity magazine
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of CDS within 500 feet of a park
• Distribution of CDS within 1000 feet of a school
• Conspiracy

Jabriel Brown, 24, of Newark, N.J.
• Possession of CDS
• Distribution of CDS
• Distribution of CDS within 500 feet of a park
• Distribution of CDS within 1000 feet of a school

Faquan Johnson, 22, of Newark, N.J.
• Possession of a handgun without a permit
• Certain persons not to possess a weapon
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of CDS within 500 feet of a park
• Distribution of CDS within 1000 feet of a school
• Conspiracy

Dashaun Wright, 32, of Newark, N.J.
• Conspiracy to distribute heroin/fentanyl
• Conspiracy to distribute heroin/fentanyl within 500 feet of a park
• Conspiracy to distribute heroin/fentanyl within 1000 feet of a school
• Conspiracy

Carnel Wright, 22, of Woodbridge, N.J.
• Conspiracy to distribute heroin/fentanyl
• Conspiracy to distribute heroin/fentanyl within 500 feet of a park
• Conspiracy to distribute heroin/fentanyl within 1000 feet of a school
• Conspiracy

Ray Odom, 58, of Newark, N.J.
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl within 500 feet of a park
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl within 1000 feet of a school

Aquah Woolard, 20, Newark, N.J.
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl within 500 feet of a park
• Distribution of heroin/fentanyl within 1000 feet of a school
• Conspiracy

Donald Scott,26, of Newark, N.J.
• Possession of CDS
• Possession of CDS with intent to distribute

Levar Parker, 47, of Newark, N.J.
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Possession of CDS packing material

Alquan Parker, 22, of Newark, N.J.
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Possession of CDS packing material

Jamar Horne, 42, of Newark, N.J.
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl
• Possession of CDS packing material

Al Rashid Turner, 43, of Newark, N.J
• Possession with intent to distribute CDS paraphernalia

Terrence Woods, 37, of Newark, N.J.
• Possession of heroin/fentanyl

Naim Stewart, 27, of Newark, N.J.
• Eluding

“We cannot end New Jersey’s opioid crisis unless we dismantle the state’s distribution networks for fentanyl and heroin,” said Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck. “Under Colonel Callahan’s leadership, the New Jersey State Police is focusing its investigative resources on those individuals and criminal organizations most responsible for fatal overdoses.”

“These operations are designed to target drug distribution networks and choke off the supply line of deadly opioids. Shutting down distribution where it originates prevents lethal brands of stamps, like those seized in this operation, from entering our communities, which greatly reduces both overdoses and fatalities,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to work with our partners dismantle narcotics trafficking networks through aggressive enforcement, and we will also work with our communities to combat the opioid epidemic through education, partnership, and outreach initiatives.

“The Division of Criminal Justice is incredibly grateful for the work of our law enforcement partner, the New Jersey State Police under the leadership of Colonel Callahan,” said Division of Criminal Justice Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo. “Their work in this investigation and other sophisticated and strategic investigations like it hold those who profit from the suffering of others accountable for their alleged crimes, and removes lethal drugs from our neighborhoods thereby saving lives.”

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