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Public employees linked to 'Operation Smoke Screen'

According to New Jersey police, multiple arrests have been made in connection with a large drug distribution network based in central New Jersey. Some of those arrested worked for the state of New Jersey.

The arrests, a collaborative effort of the state police, New Brunswick police and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, are the culmination of a 10-month long investigation which had allegedly been operating for several years.

According to reports, three suspects, ages 40 to 57, were targets of the investigation of drug distribution activities, and were employees of the housing authority, department of public works and the sheriff's department. The men are accused of possession and distribution of cocaine and marijuana for almost 20 years. Authorities seized approximately $130,000 worth of assorted drugs, more than $10,000 in cash and firearms, including 17 handguns, 14 rifles, two assault rifles, two shotguns, four high-capacity magazines, one stun gun and one ballistic vest. Twenty-two of the 36 weapons were found to be illegal.

Police also seized a 2008 Toyota Tundra pickup truck used by one of the suspects for drug distribution.

The suspect employed by the housing authority has been linked to a police take-down of a local distribution ring known as Operation Smoke Screen. He has been suspended from his job without pay. According to reports, he was arrested near his home while driving a city vehicle. He was charged with distribution and possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and possession of cocaine within 500 feet of a public building.

The main focus of the police investigation was alleged dealers involved in sophisticated methods of distribution of the drugs.

Two of the suspects were jailed on $150,000 bail. One was later released. Another was arrested at his home where police found MDMA, cocaine, marijuana, weapons and cash. Charges include loitering commit CDS Offense and sale of illegal weapons.

Drug trafficking, possession and distribution are serious matters. Evidence has to be collected in an ethical and lawful manner and witnesses must be thoroughly questioned. If an individual is facing serious drug charges, it is in his best interest to explore every possible option to protect one's constitutional rights and to determine what evidence can or cannot be used in court, as well as consider the best way to minimize negative consequences.

Source: newbrunswick.patch.com, "Mahony Arrest Linked to "Operation Smoke Screen" Drug Distribution Ring" Jennifer Bradshaw, Jan. 07, 2014

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