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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2005

DEA Arrests Continue to Dismantle the “Asbury Park Organization”

Special Agent in Charge Michael Pasterchick, Jr., of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U. S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Christopher J. Christie, and Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Robert Honecker put Asbury Park’s underworld on notice once again with a coordinated series of arrests against the town’s most violent criminals and biggest drug dealers.

The third phase of this 1.5 year investigation by DEA and law enforcement culminated this weekend after months of surveillance, undercover operations, and a federal wiretap. It resulted in an Asbury Park Organization heroin cell being dismantled and eliminated from the Asbury Park community. The leader of the heroin cell was Kurtis Barnes, also known as ‘Gotti.’ Barnes led the organization which sold heroin with street names such as ‘Hell Raiser,’ ‘Da wire,’ ‘Funny Money’ and ‘Black Rain.’ The targeted criminals were responsible for the distribution of heroin throughout Monmouth and other New Jersey counties.

“The Asbury Park Organization heroin cell will not be plaguing this community with drugs anymore,” said Pasterchick, Jr. “This investigation represents the best efforts of federal, state, county and local law enforcement working together for one goal, arresting and dismantling the drug trafficking organizations that infect a whole neighborhood with drugs. Not only did we eliminate and dismantle this drug organization from top to bottom, but we will continue to investigate and arrest criminals that try to poison the citizens of Asbury Park and others communities with drugs.”

Arrested this weekend were the following defendants:

Kurtis Barnes (AKA - Gotti), DOB: 09-07-1978, Asbury Park, NJ
Darren Sims (AKA - DS), DOB: 05-18-1976, Asbury Park, NJ
Antonio Grant (AKA - Geechi), DOB: 01-17-1979, Asbury Park, NJ
Michael Collins (AKA Mikey), DOB: 08-20-1974, Asbury Park, NJ

The operation was a continuation of two previous enforcement efforts that targeted the most violent criminals in Asbury Park. The joint venture was spearheaded by DEA’s Mobile Enforcement Team (MET), a specialized squad dedicated to attacking drug trafficking and urban violence in close coordination with counties and local authorities.

To date, 27 federal defendants arrested in conjunction with the Asbury Park Organization have pled guilty and are awaiting lengthy federal sentences. For a complete list of dates and arrests, please see the two attachments to this document.

“This is a terrific result,” said Christie. “We’ve hit the leading members of a heroin distribution network with a cooperative law enforcement effort aimed at stamping out the drug trade in Asbury Park and improving the lives of the city’s residents. It’s an effort we will continue to pursue.”

“The number one heroin dealer in Asbury Park is off the streets because of local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, working together to make it happen. The community of Asbury Park is safer because of this cooperative effort,” stated Robert Honecker.

The investigation is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey headed by Christopher J. Christie. John Hoffman is the Assistant United States Attorney who will represent the Government.

The federal complaint charges the defendants with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. If convicted of conspiracy, each defendant faces a statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a statutory minimum of 10 years in federal prison and a $4 million fine.

Notwithstanding the criminal Complaint, 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 federal law.

Attachment A

Attachment B

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