BREAKING NEWS REPORT: Breaking news report from on scene and radio reports, if and when official information becomes available story will be updated and corrections made.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 8:30 pm the Trenton Fire Department was sent to the 700 Block of Southard Street for a house fire. Upon arrival companies struck an “All Hands” sending the full first alarm and additional EMS units were also called to the scene. Fire was in a 2 1/2 story 2 family home with heavy fire conditions throughout. About 20 minutes into the fire a 2nd Alarm was called for and eventually the fire became a 3rd Alarm.
No further information was available about the fire.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have announced that the Mercer County Park Commission will be awarded a grant from the 2020 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund for $150,000. This grant will help fund the installation of a living shoreline and public access to the waterways in Roebling Park and the Abbott Marshlands. This three-step restoration project will include constructing a 500-linear-foot living shoreline along Watson’s Creek, conducting a feasibility study for the re-introduction of freshwater mussels in the marsh and installing a user-friendly and ecologically sensitive public boat launch. This award is a result of collaboration between the Park Commission, Princeton Hydro and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.
Freshwater tidal marsh is one of the most ecologically valuable habitat types in New Jersey, yet it has experienced the highest percentage of loss and degradation of wetland habitat in the state. The marsh within Roebling Park in Hamilton is in the heart of the larger 3,000-acre Abbott Marshlands, the northernmost tidal freshwater wetland on the Delaware River. Approximately 309 acres of Roebling Park are freshwater tidal wetlands, and provide habitat for rare organisms such as wild rice, river otter and American eel, and a prime breeding habitat for bald eagles.
“This grant will help further the county’s efforts to improve wetland functions and passive recreational opportunities in Roebling Park, an ecological jewel that’s located just minutes outside the City of Trenton,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “Native plants, wildlife and the public all will benefit from the ongoing restoration in the park.”
The Park Commission is currently working with Princeton Hydro to conduct a multi-year, multi-phased restoration of these important freshwater tidal wetlands in Roebling Park. This ecosystem restoration will enhance the park’s biodiversity, restore natural tidal function, improve recreational opportunities through the eradication of Phragmites and promote a native floral community in the wetland. The installation of a living shoreline and ecologically sensitive boat launch will continue building on the overarching mission for the larger wetland restoration, which is to provide ecological uplift to the wetlands within Roebling Park, while improving ecosystem services.
“For the last several years the Park Commission has significantly increased its efforts to restore the unique ecosystems within Roebling Park,” said Park Commission Executive Director Aaron T. Watson. “This grant will now allow us to expand upon our work to date and also result in new ways for Mercer County residents to get outside and enjoy this wonderful natural resource.” The Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund aims to conserve and restore natural areas, corridors and waterways on public and private lands to support native migratory and resident wildlife and fish, and native plants; and to contribute to the social health and economic vitality of the communities in the Delaware River watershed. These grants address priorities in NFWF’s Delaware River Watershed Business Plan. The 2020 year round of funding will support 37 new or continuing conservation and restoration grants totaling $8.12 million. The 2020 awards generated $22.08 million in match from the grantees, creating a total conservation impact of more than $30.2 million. Click here for a full list of 2020 DWCF awards.
ALLENTOWN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–An Allentown resident told MidJersey.News that around 11 pm last night a delivery crew installed a Vote-By-Mail Drop Box in front of Allentown at Borough Hall on Main Street. There are currently 17 Vote-By-Mail Drop Box locations for Monmouth County, this is the furthest west serving Western Monmouth County.
Pursuant to State law, the November 3, 2020 General Election will be conducted primarily by Mail-In Ballot in New Jersey.
If you wish to place your Mail-In Ballot in a secure drop box, below are the locations throughout the County which will be available starting the week of September 15. Addresses in the list below are clickable and will bring up Google Maps.
Voters can drop their voted Mail-In Ballot into these Board of Elections Drop Boxes anywhere in the County up until 8 p.m. on November 3, 2020. You do not have to be a resident of the town where the drop box is located. Be advised that these drop boxes are under video surveillance and are monitored by the Monmouth County Board of Elections, which can be reached at 732-431-7802.
For more information about the General Election process, click here.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton had a groundbreaking event for the Jackson Street Bridge Restoration this morning. The Jackson Street Bridge was listed as a contributing element of the Mill Hill Historic District’s entry into the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The $880,000 project is expected to last approximately two to three months.
The New Jersey Steel and Iron Company, which completed the iron fabrication for the Jackson Street Bridge in 1888, based their plant in Trenton, and supplied iron parts for the construction of similar bridges.
Few bridges of this type are still around. The Jackson Street Bridge’s role as a pedestrian bridge has allowed it avoid significant deterioration and stand as a reminder of the Capital City’s history of economic development and innovation.
The New Jersey Historic Trust provided $324,793 for renovations to be made to the Jackson Street Bridge and the City of Trenton contributed $557,207 to close the gap on funding costs for the program. Included in the costs of the project are repairs to the bridge’s walls, resurfacing the deck of the bridge, and painting the metal beams.
City of Trenton Breaks Ground on Historic Jackson Street Bridge Rehab Project
Trenton, N.J. –Mayor W. Reed Gusciora today held a groundbreaking event to launch the rehabilitation of the Jackson Street Bridge, which currently connects Mill Hill Park with the Mill Hill neighborhood.
“We are proud to partner with the state on this important rehabilitation project,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Jackson Street Bridge was part of the Mill Hill Historic District’s entry into the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, and our shared investment will keep this iconic Trenton landmark functional for decades to come.”
The N.J. Historic Trust provided $324,793 for renovations made to the Jackson Street Bridge, with the City of Trenton contributing $557,207 to close the funding gap for the program. In total, the project, which is expected to last between two to three months, costs $882,000.
“Trenton residents, but especially those involved with the Old Mill Hill Society and those who live in Mill Hill, see this bridge every day,” said North Ward City Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson. “Promoting the arts and culture, preserving historical sites, and running programming for our residents to enjoy is all part of our commitment to community development.”
The N.J. Historic Trust, housed within the N.J. Department of Community Affairs, provided the Administration with $534,000 in 2018 for the completion of renovations to Douglass House, the headquarters of General George Washington during the Revolutionary War and to the Jackson Street Bridge. In particular, the Trust provided funding through the Garden State Historic Preservation Trust Fund, which has awarded $137 million in capital grants since 1990 to assist in preserving projects across New Jersey.
“On behalf of the Trust, we are proud to have supported the restoration of the Jackson Street Bridge,” said Dorothy Guzzo, Executive Director of the N.J. Historic Trust. “Maintaining the bridge and protecting the character of the Capital City historic sites can also signal economic development.”
Included in the project costs are repairs to the bridge’s walls, resurfacing the deck of the bridge, and repainting the metal beams. The triangular sloping beams, also referred to as trusses, are a product of the Jackson Street Bridge’s unique Pratt truss design. Around the country, the few Pratt truss bridges that remain are often used by vehicles and freight trains and are slowly being decommissioned due to the cost of maintaining them for non-pedestrian usage.
“Day to day, our focus is on improving residents’ quality of life, expanding employment opportunities, and serving our youth and seniors, all while preserving the culture and the history of the Capital City,” said Sam T. Frisby, Mercer County Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Trenton. “As former Director of Recreation for the City of Trenton, it is intergovernmental collaboration like this that reduces the cost to Trenton residents and allows important restorations to occur.”
As project maintenance continues until November, a large covering will serve to protect the Assunpink Creek and the surrounding area while new concrete is poured, and the deck is surfaced with bituminous concrete.
“The New Jersey Steel and Iron Company fabricated the iron parts for this bridge in 1888. After 132 years of usage, this familiar site to Trentonians will finally be revitalized,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Community leaders and residents have called for this project’s completion since 2013, and we’re happy that the city can finally make it happen.”
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man today admitted that he conspired to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin as part of a conspiracy responsible for distributing significant quantities of heroin and cocaine in the Bayshore area of Monmouth and Middlesex counties, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Daniel McHugh, 50, of Sayreville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti via videoconference to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. McHugh also admitted to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and possessing with intent to distribute a quantity of crack cocaine.
Today’s guilty plea follows a coordinated takedown in November 2018 of 15 defendants charged by complaint with conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine. To date, 13 defendants have pleaded guilty, including supplier Gregory Gillens and lead defendant Guy Jackson. Gillens was sentenced on Sept. 8, 2020, to 10 years in prison. Jackson is awaiting sentencing.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From May 2017 to November 2018, McHugh and others engaged in a narcotics conspiracy that operated in the Raritan Bayshore region of Middlesex and northern Monmouth counties. Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, controlled purchases of heroin and cocaine, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that McHugh regularly obtained heroin and cocaine for further distribution from Jackson. Some of the heroin distributed by the conspiracy contained fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid.
On the date of his arrest, McHugh gave consent to search his residence. During that search, law enforcement recovered quantities of heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine intended for further distribution.
The heroin conspiracy count to which McHugh pleaded guilty carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years in prison, and a fine of up to $5 million. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2021.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited Special Agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, Jersey Shore Gang and Criminal Organization Task Force (including representatives from the Bradley Beach Police Department, Brick Police Department, Howell Police Department, Marlboro Police Department, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Toms River Police Department, and Union Beach Police Department) under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr.; Special Agents of the FBI, Philadelphia Division, Scranton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Driscoll; the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent; the Matawan Police Department, under the direction of Chief Thomas J. Falco, Jr.; the Holmdel Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Mioduszewski; the Highlands Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert Burton; the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni; the Old Bridge Police Department, under the direction of Chief William A. Volkert; the Keansburg Police Department, under the direction of Chief James K. Pigott; the Hazlet Police Department, under the direction of Chief Philip Meehan; and the Aberdeen Police Department, under the direction of Chief Richard A. Derechailo, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisa T. Wiygul of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
The charges and allegations against the two remaining defendants are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: James R. Murphy Esq., Princeton, New Jersey
Features 50 Towns and Cities With Strong Economies, Job Growth and Booming Housing Markets Despite COVID-19 Disruptions
DORADO, Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ –Following its inaugural list of the Best Mortgage Lenders of 2020,Money – the digital destination for personal finance and news – announces its annual ranking of the Best Places to Live featuring 50 towns and cities where the economy, job growth, and housing market remained strong despite COVID-19 disruptions. This year, Money looked at towns and cities with a population of at least 25,000 and ranked the Best Places to Live putting the greatest emphasis on economic factors, like employment opportunities, as well as supply and demand for homes, cost of living, quality of schools, racial and economic diversity, and health and safety.
Money’s No. 1 pick for Best Places to Live this year is Evans, Georgia, which is brimming with good-paying jobs thanks to its proximity to Augusta as well as affordable homes, top schools, access to arts and culture, and a diverse population, which some residents attribute to its military presence. In June, Evans residents saw a low unemployment rate of 5.2%, which was well below the 11.1% national average. Evans also had the lowest cost of living of any place with similarly high-income levels. Parker, Colorado and Meridian, Idaho landed in second and third place, respectively. Both cities topped the list because of access to high paying jobs in the booming tech sector, a healthy economy, and remarkable proximity to nature and outdoor activities.
“This year, given the general uncertainty around where and how we’ll live, our list looks a little different,” said Prachi Bhardwaj, lead reporter of Money’s Best Places to Live. “We shifted our priorities to pay more attention to cities that aren’t just doing well now, but that show great promise and stability for the next five to ten years. We also included suburban towns situated further away from major metros and have more industry diversity than you’ve seen from our list in years past.”
Money’s Top 20 Best Places to Live include:
Morrisville, North Carolina
South Windsor, Connecticut
St Peters, Missouri
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
For Money’s complete list of the Best Places to Live,click here. To learn more on the methodology of the ranking, click here.
As part of the Best Places to Live feature, the Money team continues reporting on how the pandemic has prompted more people to make the change from city living to suburban dwelling. Whether it’s because of a need for more indoor or outdoor space or a desire to invest and build wealth, Money offers readers a guide on everything you need to know about moving to the suburbs, buying a starter home, and capitalizing on record low mortgage rates. Highlights include:
The Ultimate Guide to Leaving the City: Scores of urbanites are now leaving big cities for the suburbs. Be that as it may, the allure of a big home and a green lawn comes with extra homeowner responsibilities. What will home buyers need to know about property taxes, home maintenance, neighborhood association fees, and more?
The Hassle-Free Guide to Refinancing Your Mortgage: Mortgage rates keep falling. Freddie Mac’s widely quoted Primary Mortgage Market Survey put rates at 2.86%, the lowest rate since the company began tracking mortgage rates in 1971. Yet, some experts say refinancing right now doesn’t make sense for every homeowner. What are the questions every homeowner needs to ask to determine whether now is the right time to refinance?
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Department of Justice, through the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) team joined Europol to announce the results of Operation DisrupTor, a coordinated international effort to disrupt opioid trafficking on the Darknet. The operation, which was conducted across the United States and Europe, demonstrates the continued partnership between JCODE and Europol against the illegal sale of drugs and other illicit goods and services. Operation DisrupTor builds on the success of last year’s Operation SaboTor and the coordinated law enforcement takedown of the Wall Street Market, one of the largest illegal online markets on the dark web.
Following the Wall Street Market takedown in May 2019, U.S. and international law enforcement agencies obtained intelligence to identify Darknet drug traffickers, resulting in a series of complementary, but separate, law enforcement investigations. Operation DisrupTor actions have resulted in the arrest of 179 Darknet drug traffickers and fraudulent criminals who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods and services across the United States and Europe.
This operation resulted in the seizure of over $6.5 million in both cash and virtual currencies; approximately 500 kilograms of drugs worldwide; 274 kilograms of drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA, and medicine containing addictive substances in the United States; and 63 firearms. Darknet vendor accounts were identified and attributed to real individuals selling illicit goods on Darknet market sites such as AlphaBay, Dream, WallStreet, Nightmare, Empire, White House, DeepSea, Dark Market and others. By leveraging complementary partnerships and surging resources across the U.S. government and Europol, Operation DisrupTor was used to significantly disrupt the online opioid trade and send a strong message that criminals operating on the Darknet are not beyond the reach of law enforcement.
Operation DisrupTor led to 121 arrests in the United States including two in Canada at the request of the United States, 42 in Germany, eight in the Netherlands, four in the United Kingdom, three in Austria, and one in Sweden. A number of investigations are still ongoing to identify the individuals behind dark web accounts.
“Criminals selling fentanyl on the Darknet should pay attention to Operation DisrupTor,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. “The arrest of 179 of them in seven countries—with the seizure of their drug supplies and their money as well—shows that there will be no safe haven for drug dealing in cyberspace.”
“With the spike in opioid-related overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that today’s announcement is important and timely,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI wants to assure the American public, and the world, that we are committed to identifying Darknet drug dealers and bringing them to justice. But our work does not end with today’s announcement. The FBI, through JCODE and our partnership with Europol, continues to be actively engaged in a combined effort to disrupt the borderless, worldwide trade of illicit drugs. The FBI will continue to use all investigative techniques and tools to identify and prosecute Darknet opioid dealers, wherever they may be located.”
“The 21st century has ushered in a tidal wave of technological advances that have changed the way we live,” said DEA Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea. “But as technology has evolved, so too have the tactics of drug traffickers. Riding the wave of technological advances, criminals attempt to further hide their activities within the dark web through virtual private networks and tails, presenting new challenges to law enforcement in the enduring battle against illegal drugs. Operation DisrupTor demonstrates the ability of DEA and our partners to outpace these digital criminals in this ever-changing domain, by implementing innovative ways to identify traffickers attempting to operate anonymously and disrupt these criminal enterprises.”
“U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has played an integral role in Operation DisrupTor which has effectively removed opioids from our communities,” said ICE Acting Deputy Director Derek Benner. “It has been an honor to work alongside our domestic and international law enforcement partners and pursue bad actors hiding on the Darknet. Our trained cyber analysts and investigators have conducted undercover efforts that target dark website operators, vendors and prolific buyers of these dangerous drugs. HSI special agents employ unique investigative capabilities to trace and identify the proceeds stemming from the distribution and online sales of fentanyl and other illicit opioids. These efforts will continue to thwart a significant amount of criminal drug sale activity and deter criminals believing they can operate with anonymity on the Darknet.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has worked diligently for years to rid the mail of illicit drug trafficking and preserve the integrity of the mail,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale. “Most importantly, these efforts provide a safe environment for postal employees and the American public. Today’s announcement serves as an outstanding example of the worldwide impact Postal Inspectors can make through our ever-growing partnerships with federal and international law enforcement agencies. On behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, we offer our sincere appreciation to all of our partners in this operation who helped protect the nation’s mail, and we pledge to never relent in our pursuit of criminals seeking to exploit the U.S. mail.”
“Law enforcement is most effective when working together, and today’s announcement sends a strong message to criminals selling or buying illicit goods on the dark web: the hidden internet is no longer hidden, and your anonymous activity is not anonymous,” said Edvardas Šileris, the Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). “Law enforcement is committed to tracking down criminals, no matter where they operate – be it on the streets or behind a computer screen.”
The extensive operation, which lasted nine months, resulted in over dozens of federal prosecutions including:
The Los Angeles JCODE Task Force, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, successfully dismantled a drug trafficking organization that used online monikers such as “Stealthgod” to sell methamphetamine and MDMA on multiple Darknet marketplaces. Investigators have linked the crew to more than 18,000 illicit drug sales to customers in at least 35 states and numerous countries around the world. During law enforcement actions in Southern California earlier this year, members of JCODE arrested five defendants and seized approximately 120 pounds of methamphetamine, seven kilograms of MDMA and five firearms. Two of the five – Teresa McGrath, 34, of Sunland-Tujunga, and Mark Chavez, 41, of downtown Los Angeles – have since pleaded guilty to narcotics-trafficking and other offenses, and each faces a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence. As the investigation continued, the Los Angeles JCODE Task Force made additional seizures, including $1.6 million in cryptocurrency, 11 pounds of methamphetamine and 14 pounds of pills pressed with methamphetamine. Andres Bermudez, 37, of Palmdale, California, who allegedly was a main supplier of methamphetamine to the “Stealthgod” crew, was charged last week with a narcotics-trafficking offense that carry a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence. He is considered a fugitive.
Arden McCann, 32, of Quebec, Canada, was charged with conspiring to import drugs into the United States and money laundering conspiracy, in a four-count indictment returned by a grand jury in Atlanta, Georgia. According to court documents, the defendant is alleged to have imported alprazolam, fentanyl, U-47700, and fentanyl analogues such as carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl, 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl, acryl fentanyl, and methoxyacetyl fentanyl into the United States from Canada and China. The superseding indictment alleges that fentanyl analogues the defendant imported into the United States resulted in a non-fatal overdose in April 2016, and fentanyl the defendant imported into the United States resulted in an overdose death in December 2016.
Khlari Sirotkin, 36, of Colorado; Kelly Stephens, 32, of Colorado; Sean Deaver, 36, of Nevada; Abby Jones, 37, of Nevada; and Sasha Sirotkin, 32, of California, were charged with drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy, in a 21-count indictment returned by a grand jury in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to court documents, the defendants are alleged to be members of one of the most prolific online drug trafficking organizations in the United States and allegedly specialized in the manufacturing and distribution of more than one million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills and laundered approximately $2.8 million over the course of the conspiracy. The pressed fentanyl pills, along with heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, were shipped to the Southern District of Ohio and throughout the country. FBI, DEA, FDA, HSI and USPIS agents seized 2.5 kilograms of fentanyl; 5,095 pressed xanax; 50 suboxone; 16.5 grams of cocaine; 37 grams of crystal meth; 12 grams of black tar heroin; an industrial pill press; 5,908 pounds of dried marijuana with an estimated street value of $9 million; $80,191 in cash, 10 firearms and one pound of fentanyl.
The FBI Washington Field Office’s Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, successfully thwarted a firebomb attack plot involving explosives, firearms, the Darknet, prescription opioid trafficking, cryptocurrency, and sophisticated money laundering. William Anderson Burgamy, 33, of Hanover, Maryland, and Hyrum T. Wilson, 41, of Auburn, Nebraska, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to charges related to a conspiracy to use explosives to firebomb and destroy a competitor pharmacy in Nebraska. Burgamy, who is not a pharmacist, operated as the Darknet vendor NeverPressedRX (NPRX) since at least August 2019. Wilson, who was a licensed pharmacist, illegally mailed to Burgamy over 19,000 dosage units of prescription medications, including opioids, from his pharmacy in Nebraska. Burgamy illegally sold prescription drugs through his Darknet vendor account to customers nationwide, and claimed at one point that he made nearly $1 million total. Burgamy and Wilson agreed that Burgamy and another individual would carry multiple firearms during the attack operation and use explosives, specifically Molotov cocktails enhanced with Styrofoam as a thickening agent, to burn the victim pharmacy down in furtherance of their drug trafficking scheme. Law enforcement agents seized thousands of opioid pills, eight unsecured firearms, including two loaded AR-15 assault rifles with high capacity magazines, and over $19,000 cash. Prior to Burgamy’s arrest in April 2020, which uncovered and thwarted the firebombing plot, Burgamy and Wilson fully intended on the attack occurring after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
Aaron Brewer, 39, of Corsicana, Texas, was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and distribution of a controlled substance in a two-count indictment returned by a grand jury in the Northern District of Texas. According to court documents, the defendant allegedly sold cocaine, heroin, and other drugs via the dark web. He allegedly accepted payment in cryptocurrency, primarily bitcoin, and then shipped the drugs to customers’ addresses through the U.S. mail and other shipping services. Following Mr. Brewer’s arrest on July 2, agents with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and FBI Dallas Field Office seized roughly 650 grams of black tar heroin, cocaine, and OxyContin, two computers, and more than $870 in postage stamps, as well as a ledger outlining 757 drug shipments sent to 609 unique addresses between December 2019 and March 2020.
An indictment and criminal complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Operation DisrupTor was a collaborative initiative across JCODE members, including the Department of Justice; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN); Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF); Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Department of Defense (DOD). Local, state and other federal agencies also contributed to Operation DisrupTor investigations. The investigations leading to Operation DisrupTor were significantly aided by essential support and coordination by the Department of Justice’s multi-agency Special Operations Division, the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, and Organized Crime and Gang Section, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the National Cyber Joint Investigative Task Force (NCJITF), Europol and its Dark Web team and international partners Eurojust, Austrian Federal Investigation Bureau (Bundeskriminalamt), Cyprus Police (Αστυνομία Κύπρου), German Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt), Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Portuguese Judicial Police (Polícia Judiciária), Dutch Police (Politie), Swedish Police (Polisen), the British National Crime Agency, Australia’s Western Australia Police Force and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
Federal prosecutions are being conducted in more than 20 Federal districts, including: the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the Northern District of California, the Southern District of California, the District of Colorado, the District of Columbia, the District of Connecticut, the Middle District of Florida, the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Georgia, the District of Hawaii, the Western District of Missouri, the District of New Jersey, the Western District of North Carolina, the Northern District of Ohio, the Southern District of Ohio, District of Oregon, the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Northern District of Texas, the Eastern District of Virginia, the District of the Virgin Islands and the Western District of Washington.
JCODE is an FBI-led Department of Justice initiative, which works closely with the DEA-led, multi-agency, Special Operations Division to support, coordinate and de-conflict investigations targeting for disruption and dismantlement of the online sale of illegal drugs, especially fentanyl and other opioids. Additionally, JCODE targets the trafficking of weapons and other illicit goods and services on the internet. Operation DisrupTor illustrates the investigative power of federal and international partnerships to combat the borderless nature of online criminal activity.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen Delivers Remarks at Announcement of Results of Operation Disruptor
Good morning. I am pleased to be joined today by FBI Director Christopher Wray, DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea, ICE Acting Deputy Director Derek Benner, and Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale.
This morning, the Department is joining its partners in the United States and Europe to announce the results of Operation DisrupTor. Operation DisrupTor is the United States Government’s largest operation to date targeting criminal activity on the Darknet, particularly opioid trafficking. Over the past months, the United States and its partners across the globe have worked together to deal a powerful blow to this criminal underworld.
The trafficking of opioids is a national crisis of daunting proportions, which poses a major danger to the American people. It is devastating our communities and our families. According to the CDC, over 67,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose in 2018. That’s over 1,000 people dead each week – 1,000 lost parents, children, friends, and family members. That is more deaths than occur from car accidents. For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now among the leading causes of death.
For an increasing number of young addicts, opioids are purchased not from local dealers, but from pushers operating online. Hiding behind anonymizing software known as Tor, a new sort of drug kingpin now is able to reach more buyers than ever before, through online marketplaces peddling every sort of illicit good and service imaginable. These “Darknet marketplaces” have grown in popularity at an alarming rate and allow drug traffickers to openly advertise and take orders from anywhere in the world. The Darknet invites criminals into our homes, and provides unlimited access to illegal commerce.
Operation DisrupTor is the Department’s latest effort to combat the scourge of opioid trafficking on the Darknet. Activities here resulted in almost 120 arrests and the seizure of over 270 kilograms of drugs, including 17 kilograms of lethal fentanyl and 96 kilograms of methamphetamine. Additionally, U.S. law enforcement worked in conjunction with counterparts in Europe and Canada on this investigation, which resulted in more than 50 additional arrests.
Operation DisrupTor was coordinated by the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team, also known as JCODE. Cases were worked in more than 20 different U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country. The operation was supported by numerous components at Main Justice, including the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, and the Department’s Office of International Affairs. Among the cases:
Law enforcement in the Southern District of Ohio shut down one of the most prolific online drug trafficking organizations in the United States, which operated using the moniker “Pill Cosby.” Members of the group were charged with manufacturing and distributing over one million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills.
Here in the District of Columbia, a grand jury charged a Costa Rican pharmacist who knowingly supplied large amounts of drugs to a dark web trafficker, sending a strong message that unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists who fuel the opioid epidemic will be held accountable – even if they operate overseas.
The Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the narcotics vendor “NeverPressedRX,” who was so intent on securing his online criminal enterprise that he conspired to use explosives to firebomb and destroy a competitor pharmacy.
Law enforcement in the Central District of California, successfully dismantled a drug trafficking organization that used online monikers such as “Stealthgod” to sell methamphetamine and MDMA on multiple Darknet marketplaces. Investigators have linked the crew to more than 18,000 illicit sales to customers in at least 35 states and in numerous countries around the world.
In the Northern District of Georgia, an investigation into the murder of an elderly couple found brutally murdered in their home led investigators to a man who used the Darknet to purchase sensitive information stolen from numerous elderly victims, including the murdered couple.
A number of additional investigations are still ongoing.
There will be no safe haven for drug dealing in cyberspace.
Today’s announcement is very much a success story in international law enforcement cooperation, as crime on the Darknet is truly a global problem that requires global partnership. However, the global nature of the threat also means that foreign countries who fail to act can easily become safe harbors for criminals who seek to pump lethal, addictive drugs into the United States from abroad. The Department cannot and will not allow criminals to operate with impunity.
This Operation marks a significant milestone in the fight against crime on the Darknet. But there is more to do, and more to come. Keeping the American people safe is the Department’s highest priority. The Department will not relent in our efforts to combat this evil plaguing our society, and we will bring to justice those who seek to profit from the destruction of human lives.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Water Works will be painting 3,501 fire hydrants in its five-municipality service area over the next 24 months, weather permitting.
“We are improving the quality of TWW’s fire hydrants for effective fire suppression,” said Michael Walker, Chief of Communications and Community Relations. “We’ve been inspecting fire hydrants for operability and flow rate over the last few months, and we now plan to vary their color to indicate how quickly water flows from them to fire personnel and emergency responders.”
TWW personnel will strip hydrants of old layers of paint, and then apply primer and two fresh coats. Color codes to indicate flow volume in gallons per minute are as follows: Light Blue: 1,500 gallons per minute; Green: 1,000-1,499 gallons per minute; Orange: 500-999 gallons per minute; Red: less than 500 gallons per minute.
TWW personnel must have direct access to the hydrants. We are therefore asking residents to please remove any plantings or decorations that might be obscuring local hydrants. Hydrants should never be blocked, hidden, or decorated, as this interferes with emergency access.
“We ask that residents not paint or decorate fire hydrants, which prevents fire personnel from knowing a hydrant’s flow rate during an emergency,” added Walker.
If you have questions about TWW’s hydrant paint project, including reporting hydrants that have been knocked over or are not functioning properly, please call TWW’s Construction and Maintenance at (609) 989-3222.