NEWARK, N.J. – A Somerset County, New Jersey, man was arrested for distributing fentanyl that resulted in four deaths and distributing cocaine, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Mauricio Gutierrez, 50, of Somerset, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with two counts of distribution of fentanyl that resulted in a death and one count of distribution of cocaine. Gutierrez made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark federal court and was detained.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On June 24, 2022, Gutierrez distributed controlled substances containing fentanyl in at least two separate transactions.
The first individual to whom Gutierrez distributed fentanyl used it, along with two other individuals. Shortly thereafter the three victims were located in a vehicle that was parked outside an establishment in North Brunswick, New Jersey, and all three were unresponsive. Two victims were pronounced dead and the third victim died two days later. Law enforcement located a white powder, which was determined to contain fentanyl, inside the vehicle.
In a separate transaction, Gutierrez distributed fentanyl to another individual who was located shortly thereafter in a vehicle in Franklin Township, New Jersey. The victim was unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene. Law enforcement located a white powder, which was determined to contain fentanyl, inside the vehicle.
Subsequent toxicology reports determined that the victims had lethal amounts of fentanyl in their blood.
On Sept. 27, 2023, law enforcement officials arrested Gutierrez after observing him engage in a hand-to-hand narcotics sale in Piscataway, New Jersey. The controlled substance that Gutierrez distributed tested positive for cocaine.
The charges of drug distribution resulting in death each carry a maximum potential penalty of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison. The charge of distributing controlled substances carries a maximum penalty of 20 years. The three charges each carry a fine of up to $1 million.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of Homeland Security Investigations Newark, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Kurtz, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the North Brunswick Department, under the direction of Chief Joe Battaglia, and Franklin Township Police Department, under the direction of Public Safety Director Quovella Maeweather, for their assistance.
The investigations leading to these charges is part of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force’s (OCDETF) operations. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The government is represented by Shawn Barnes, Chief of the Office’s OCDETF/Narcotics Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Fell of the Office’s OCDETF/Narcotics Unit, in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.