Authorities say that one of the three men from Manhattan who are accused of flooding four North Jersey counties with huge amounts of fentanyl, meth, and coke has admitted to being part of the group.
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Philip R. Sellinger, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, said that Juan Carlos Merced Moreno, age 45, and his partners ran a fentanyl mill in Washington Heights that sold at least 25,000 pills to drug traffickers in New Jersey. Those pills were then sold all over Garden State.
That wasn’t all, though.
Authorities found out about the operation when they were looking into a group from Hudson County that was flooding the streets of Union City, North Bergen, West New York, Bayonne, and other places in Bergen, Essex, and Union counties with meth, fentanyl, and cocaine, some of which was a mix of all three.
Investigators listened in on a series of phone calls and figured out that Moreno, who goes by the name “Samuel,” Antonio Hidalgo, who goes by the name “Cacona,” and Jose Miguel “Pelu” Abreu were their main suppliers.
Investigators watched how the operations worked together and often followed their vehicles from one side of the Hudson River to the other. They said that Moreno was the “main link” between the two.
On January 29, 2021, police raided more than two dozen places on both sides of the river at the same time. This included the homes of all three men in Manhattan and a basement in Washington Heights.
The following were found:
a mix of methamphetamine and fentanyl that weighed almost 12 pounds;
- almost 4 lbs. of crystal meth;
- Meth and fentanyl pills weighing nearly five pounds;
- just under 3 pounds of cocaine;
- more than 1.5 pounds of fentanyl in the form of bricks;
- $11,180 in cash for drugs;
- There are 2 pill presses and 4 scales.
- They said that the drugs they had seized were worth about $70,000 on the street.
- Hidalgo is being held by the federal government, and Abreu is still on the run.
Moreno didn’t want to risk the results of a trial, so he took a deal from the government and pleaded guilty to several drug charges during a videoconference with a federal judge in Newark on Tuesday, December 20.
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U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi set May 8, 2023, as the date for the sentencing.
Depending on how much Moreno helps with the investigation, the date could change.
Sellinger gave credit to members of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) in both New York and Newark, the New York City Airport Border Enforcement Security Task Force, the NYPD, and investigators from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Levin of Sellinger’s National Security Unit in Newark was the one who got the plea deal.
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