News Release
For Immediate Release:
Thursday, January 24, 2008

Contact: Douglas S. Collier
Public Information Officer
(973) 776-1143 (Office)
(862) 849-9833 (Cell)

DEA, HIDTA, Union County, Elizabeth, Hillside, Linden PD’s Together Execute Operation: “Old School”

JAN 24 -- (Newark, NJ) - Gerard P. McAleer, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New Jersey Division, and Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow announced today the dismantling of three (3) distinct illegal narcotics enterprises in the City of Elizabeth, New Jersey. This was a seven month investigation which resulted in 18 individuals arrested facing both state and federal charges.

The investigation focused on the mid-level dealers who provide the link between the upper-level dealers who imported illegal narcotics into the country and the street-level dealers who peddle it on corners of crime-ridden neighborhoods.

The most recent arrests occurred this morning when at 5:45 a.m. over 100 police officers from 7 different law enforcement agencies, including 5 SWAT teams, conducted simultaneous raids on 8 locations in Elizabeth. Eleven people were arrested, 4 guns confiscated and heroin with an approximate street value of $116,000+, cocaine with a street value of $100,000 and $15,300 in cash were seized. The 400 grams of heroin seized was in a pure form and requires laboratory analysis to determine its degree of purity. Including the arrests and seizures that occurred in October, December and early January as part of the same investigation, the total amount of seizures rises to $203,500+ worth of heroin (street value), $100,000 worth of cocaine (street value), $30,500 in cash and 4 guns with a total of 19 people arrested.

According to Gerard P. McAleer, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s New Jersey Division, “This investigation knows no boundaries. It extends beyond Elizabeth, beyond Union County and beyond New Jersey. We will continue to investigate this to the source country.”

Anibal Rodriguez’ street-level dealers were also identified and charged. Charged are his brother, Alniva “Julio” Rodriguez, Lamont Long, Rocky Lyles, Craig Pearson, Barry Warren and Dijuant Williams.

Two of Rodriguez’ suppliers have also been identified as Curtis Neal of Perthy Amboy, and Ramon Reyes were arrested and charged in December when they purchased 150 bricks of heroin (7500 individual bags) from a New York supplier. That heroin had a street value of $75,000.” The man from New York from whom he purchased the drugs has also been arrested and charged. Neal and Reyes are currently facing federal charges.

One of Rodriguez’ street-level dealers is identified as Rocky Lyles. Lyles was arrested and charged in October, 2007 after he attempted to retrieve the jacket of a three-year-old girl from a day care center in Elizabeth. The jacket belonged to the daughter of Lyles’ girlfriend. The child had already handed the 27 bags of heroin she found in her pocket to her teacher who alerted police. Among other things, Lyles is charged with endangering the welfare of a minor.

Karnell Wilson has also been identified as a supplier for Anibal Rodriguez. Wilson is part of an organization centered around Anthony Hopson. This organization provides heroin primarily to the area of Jackson Avenue and Bond Street and Jefferson Park in Elizabeth. Hopson is joined by his nephew, Khiah Hopson originally from Georgia who acts as his right-hand man. Wilson and Anthony and Khiah Hopson supplied and shared suppliers with other mid-level drug dealers inside and outside of Elizabeth. Some of their “customers” include Robert “Bobby” Franklin, Ryshane Graves and Manuel Veras---all of whom have been arrested and charged.

This investigation involved the cooperation of several agencies besides the others already mentioned. These include: Newark Police Department, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and officers from various local police departments throughout the state who are assigned temporarily to the DEA’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.

Despite these charges every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and State law.

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