More than a dozen residents from Bergen, Passaic and Essex counties were arrested late last week following a six-month drug investigation led by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Two Paterson men face the most severe charges following the conclusion of Operation Blue Bullet.
Passaic prosecutors allege that between November 2013 and March 2014, Fidel Gonzalez, 31, illegally distributed oxycodone supplied by Victor Torres, 33, throughout Paterson, according to Passaic Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes.
Gonzalez was charged with being the leader of a narcotics trafficking network, conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, seven counts of distribution of oxycodone, and distribution within 1,000 feet of school property.
The leader of a narcotics network charge carries a sentence of life imprisonment during which the person must serve 25 years before eligible for parole, Valdes said.
Torres was charged with conspiracy to distribute, cocaine possession, possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of school property.
The possession with intent to distribute charge carries a maximum of up to 20 years in prison, Valdes said.
Also charged with several lesser drug-related offenses: Sherelyn Diaz, of Paterson, 45; Carol Darwiche, of Totowa, 35; Toni Alvarado, of Garfield, 49; James Lamendola, of Little Falls, 35; Stephanie Raftery, of Little Falls, 38; Michael Basante, of Totowa, 26; Michael Grazioso, Jr., of North Caldwell, 27; Anthony Grazioso, Jr., of North Caldwell, 21; Oscar Jones, Jr., of Paterson, 24.
Law enforcement officials recovered a quantity of oxycodone, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, a 2007 Cadillac SRX, a 2009 BMW 328, and approximately $15,300, as a result of search warrants executed at the Paterson homes of Gonzalez, Jackson, Whitaker; and the North Caldwell home of Anthony Grazioso Jr.
The six-month investigation was conducted by the the Passaic prosecutor’s Gangs and Violent Crimes Task Force along with Paterson, Wayne, Passaic, Clifton and the Essex County law enforcement officials.
Editor's Note: Passaic prosecutors moved to drop charges against Anthony Grazioso Jr. in April.