Leader Of Trenton Drug Trafficking Organization Indicted

June 18, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A federal grand jury today indicted the leader of a Trenton drug-trafficking organization for his role overseeing and managing the distribution of large amounts of heroin in the Trenton area, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Robert M. Gbanapolor, 33, of Trenton, was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin with the intent to distribute and distribution. Gbanapolor and 10 others were previously charged by complaint in June 2019. He will be arraigned on a date to be determined.

Eight other members of this drug trafficking conspiracy have previously pleaded guilty in this case. The charges against two other defendants remain pending on complaint.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

From June 2018 through May 2019, the defendants and others engaged in a heroin trafficking conspiracy in the areas of Stuyvesant Avenue, Hoffman Avenue, and Highland Avenue in Trenton, as well as in the area of Barbary Road in Philadelphia.

Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, controlled purchases of heroin, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that Gbanapolor obtained regular bulk supplies of heroin from Duane Paulino-Escalera, whom Gbanapolor referred to as “Papi.”

Members of the conspiracy distributed the heroin supplied by Papi to other conspirators, distributors, sub-dealers, and end-users in and around Trenton. Law enforcement officers intercepted numerous discussions among the conspirators regarding issues such as heroin quality and availability, branding, quantity and customer satisfaction.

The charge against Gbanapolor carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison, and a $5 million fine.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division, Camden Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; and task force officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked detectives and officers of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Christine A. Hoffman; detectives and officers of the Gloucester Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Harry Earle; members of the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; detectives and officers of the Bordentown Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Brian Pesce; and special agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson for their assistance.

This case is being conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). 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.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric A. Boden and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment and the original complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Defense counsel: David E. Schafer, Lawrenceville, New Jersey