Brick man among 24 arrested in cocaine bust

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COURTESY OF OCEAN COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE

BRICK TOWNSHIP — Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer has announced 24 arrests with multiple charges connected with three cocaine distribution centers, after a four-month long investigation labeled “Operation Checkmate.”

Through sophisticated surveillance methods and undercover operatives, “Operation Checkmate” was successful in disrupting and dismantling drug distribution activities by the following individuals: Luis Feliz, 41, of New York; James Hemenway, 43, of Morganville; Dale McCord, 44, of Manalapan; MarBrick resident among 24 arrested in cocaine bustk Capichana, 54, of Hazlet; Mark Kelber, 44, of Manalapan; and Andrew Contaldi, 47, of Brick, according to press o¤ cer Bryan Huntenberg.

Mr. Contaldi was charged with possession of cocaine in an amount greater than fi ve ounces with intent to distribute; six counts of distribution of cocaine; conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce; possession of cocaine; possession of drug paraphernalia; and financial facilitation. Mr. Contaldi is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing, according to Mr. Huntenberg.

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“The three cocaine networks were responsible for the import of more than three kilograms of cocaine per week into the Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex County areas,” stated Mr. Huntenberg. Prosecutor Billhimer stated, “The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force managed and directed three simultaneous multi-agency investigations into high level cocaine distribution in Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex Counties, as well as New York City. During the course of these investigations, approximately 50 additional law enforcement personnel were assigned to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Ocean Narcotics Strike Force on a full-time basis. Multiple agencies – both within and outside of Ocean County – assisted in every aspect of all three investigations.

The investigations, identified as “Operation Checkmate,” began in July 2021 and concluded this week.” The investigation resulted in the seizure of more than four kilograms of cocaine, over 15 pounds of marijuana, in excess of $650,000 in United States currency, seven firearms, ten vehicles and additional illegal narcotics, according to Mr. Huntenberg.

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