TOMS RIVER– Two Brick residents are among the 30 people arrested in what the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said is the largest drug takedown in the 30-year history of the prosecutor’s Special Operations Group.
“Ocean County unfortunately has been designated as ground zero for the opiate epidemic here in New Jersey and when I first became prosecutor it became really known to me that this is something that we need to attack and we need to address,” Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said at a press conference on Friday, March 9, of the culmination of operation “Heading Back”, which began last April.
He was joined by 30 state, county and local law enforcement agencies as well as representatives from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Morris Howard, 41, of Hillside Avenue in Brick, one of the two Brick residents being charged, is wanted in connection with third-degree possession of cocaine; third-degree possession with intent, cocaine; third-degree distribution of cocaine; two counts of third-degree possession of heroin; two counts of third degree-possession with intent, heroine; and two counts of third-degree distribution of heroin.
Jihad Anderson, 38, of Brentonian Drive in Brick, was arrested for third-degree conspiracy to possession with intent, heroin over 5 oz.; third-degree possession of cocaine; third- degree possession with intent, cocaine; possession of paraphernalia; fourth-degree unlawful possession of a high capacity magazine; and third-degree possession of CDS, heroin/fentanyl. According to the prosecutor’s office, a search was executed at his residence as well as a storage unit alleged to be his in Toms River.
As part of the operation, which encompassed seven counties from Ocean all the way north to New York, 90,000 dosage units of heroin, over 19 pounds of cocaine, $848,481, 20 firearms, 27 vehicles valued at $713,620 were seized, the prosecutor’s office announced on Friday.
“We know for a short period of time we have made a dent in the pipeline and as a result we know that other people are going to seize the opportunity and move into the area so we have to be vigilant,” Prosecutor Cornoato said.
“Do I think that we staggered [them] for a short period of time? I think so. But the bottom line is that there is somebody else that is probably going to step up and then we are going to challenge that individual next.”
Last year, Ocean County became part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.
For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.