Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Customs and Border Protection Officer Admits Leading Interstate Methamphetamine Distribution Ring

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. - A former officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today admitted coordinating shipments of crystal methamphetamine from interstate suppliers and providing them to retailers in North Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
John Freehauf, a/k/a “Johnnie Rocket,” 37, of Jersey City, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of knowingly and intentionally conspiring with others to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Individuals operating in Arizona, California, Nevada and elsewhere sent parcels containing large quantities of methamphetamine through the U.S. mail to addresses provided by New Jersey-based conspirators, who would then repackage the methamphetamine and distribute it to lower level dealers in and around New Jersey. Conspirators working for the U.S. Postal Service would sometimes supervise receipt of the methamphetamine-laden parcels to ensure successful delivery.

Freehauf admitted that between July 2013 and June 2014, he conspired with others to distribute an average of three to five pounds of crystal methamphetamine per month in North Jersey. Freehauf admitted that he arranged the shipments from California, Arizona and elsewhere and repackaged the drugs for distribution to lower level dealers.

Freehauf and the other defendants were charged by complaint on June 18, 2014, with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine:





Jersey City

Benjamin Navarro


Jersey City

Maria Lisa Pascual


North Bergen, N.J.

Arnold Balagtas


Jersey City

Margaret Tiangco


Jersey City

Javier Diaz


Los Angeles, Calif.

Candace Healy


Fresh Meadows, N.Y.

Ricce Anciado Jr.


Union, N.J.

Stephanie Luna


Bergenfield, N.J.

Benedict Cipriano


Jersey City

Ricky Tulud


Belleville, N.J.

Janice Vidallon



Ryan Bontempi


Phoenix, Ariz.

Howard Taylor



Carlos Asturias


Clifton, N.J.

The conspiracy charge to which Freehauf pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 1, 2015.

Diaz, Anciado, Cipriano, Tulud, Bontempi, and Asturias have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Charges against Navarro, Pascual, Tiangco, Healy, Luna, Vidallon, and Taylor are still pending. The charges and allegations against them are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski; U.S. Postal Inspectors under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates; law enforcement officers from the N.J. National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, under the direction of the Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Michael L. Cunniff; the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Rick Fuentes; the Edison Police Department, under the direction of Chief Thomas Bryan; and the Jersey City Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert Cowan, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam N. Subervi of the U.S. Attorney’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) unit in Newark.

This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.


Defense counsel: Joseph R. Rubino Esq., West Orange, New Jersey

Updated September 11, 2015

Press Release Number: John Freehauf