Charges Include Cocaine Distribution and Child Endangerment
March 2, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Director Sheilah A. Coley today announced that two Trenton men had been arrested for drug charges on Feb. 27, 2020 after officers broke up a party on 114 Elm Street.
Luis Santos-Bautista, 28, of Trenton, was charged with cocaine distribution, endangering the welfare of a child, possession with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school, possession with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a park, and maintaining a nuisance. Kenry Oliver Quintana-Martinez, 34, of Trenton, was charged with cocaine possession.
The arrests were carried out following an investigation by the Violent Crimes Rapid Response Unit (VCRR), which was responding to reports of afterhours parties and underage prostitution at the above location. When officers entered the premises, they found that the property had been converted into a “party house,” complete with speakers, loud music, a disco ball and flashing lights. While officers did not find any indication of prostitution, they did find alcohol and cocaine being sold on the premises.
Of the 32 people found at the house, most were teenagers and young adults, including a 16-year-old girl.
Santos-Bautista was found with 152 zip lock baggies containing 200 grams of cocaine, a digital scale, cutting agents, and $4,342 in suspected drug proceeds. Quintana-Martinez was found with single baggie of powder cocaine.
The partygoers were ejected from the house. The 16-year-old girl was brought to police headquarters where she was picked up by her father.
“We are working hard to put illegal bars out of business, especially when they endanger our children with alcohol and narcotics,” said Director Coley. “My thanks to the residents who reported this activity and the officers who shut the party down.”
These charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. This is an ongoing investigation.
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried and Township Police Chief Chris Nitti released a combined statement in regards to recently signed marijuana legalization law. In addition below are statements from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police and the NJ State PBA on the marijuana law. Information also provided below from NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and a link to the resource page for NJ police officers.
Statement from Mayor/Public Safety Director Dave Fried and Robbinsville Township Police Chief Chris Nitti on the Recently Signed Marijuana Legalization Law:
Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed three bills into law decriminalizing marijuana and directs convictions and/or pending cases for marijuana possession be dismissed.
None of this came as a surprise, since an overwhelming majority of New Jersey residents recently voted to have marijuana legalized in our state. As an elected official and the Director of Public Safety for Robbinsville Township, I fully support the will of the people – as does Chief Chris Nitti.
As loving parents, we have the right to know when our children are involved in dangerous situations. Like many of you, we are concerned about some of the other aspects of the legalization bill. When officers now encounter juveniles who are in possession of marijuana and/or alcohol, the following restrictions now apply:
– The odor of marijuana and/or alcohol no longer constitutes “reasonable articulable suspicion” to initiate the stop of a person under the age of 21, and it no longer provides probable cause to search that person’s personal property and/or vehicle.- The unconcealed possession of an alcoholic beverage and/or marijuana observed in “plain sight” shall no longer constitute “probable cause” to initiate a search of a person under the age of 21, or that person’s personal property and/or vehicle to determine a violation of any law.- A person under the age of 21 who possesses marijuana and/or alcoholic beverages shall no longer be arrested, detained, or otherwise taken into custody “except to the extent required to issue a written warning.”- For any person under the age of 21 who possesses marijuana and/or alcoholic beverages as a first offense, these new laws forbid officers to contact his/her parent or guardian to advise him or her of such.To apply these new laws to a “real-life” situation, if an officer observes a juvenile of any age consuming alcohol and/or smoking marijuana in violation of the law, that officer CAN NOT contact the juvenile’s parent or guardian unless this behavior has been previously documented. Unless that child chooses to share this information, his or her parents or guardians will never know.Most problematic is the inability of the police to freely communicate with the parents and guardians of our children. The Robbinsville Township Police Department has always sought to divert juveniles from the criminal justice system by pursuing “non-punitive” measures for the vast majority of offenses. Only in the most serious of situations does it ever pursue juvenile delinquency complaints against children.
Statewide mandates regarding transparency required from law enforcement no longer apply regarding police interaction with kids. The RTPD has always worked closely with school officials to keep our children safe, to ensure there are open lines of communication with parents and guardians, and to provide referrals and access to programs and services that empower healthy, sound and safe decision-making. Aspects of this new law are counterproductive to years of relationship and trust-building. Most importantly, it is a serious detriment to safety and well-being of our children.
One of the RPD’s greatest strengths has been its renewed ability to foster positive relationships within the community, our juveniles in particular. Full-time School Resource Officers (SROs) are in all of our schools, in addition to the implementation of initiatives such as Coffee With a Cop, the Good Behavior Citation program, the RTPD Youth Academy and the S-T-A-R (Stop, Think, Act, Reflect) program, formerly known as D-A-R-E- (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).The priorities of the RTPD will never change, even if the means of achieving its goals of safety and security for all just may have to. Thank you all. Please stay safe.
Statement of New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police
Today, the NJ Legislature approved, and Governor Murphy signed into law Assembly Bill 5342 in an attempt to decriminalize the use and possession of cannabis. The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police has been supportive of the decriminalization of cannabis for adults and has recognized the importance of eliminating racial disparities that disproportionately impact individuals of color in the context of antiquated drug laws. However, the enactment of this legislation requires the Association to object strongly. This legislation will severely impair the ability of law enforcement to surveil and police the illegal drug market, underage possession and consumption of alcohol and tobacco and criminalize very common and overwhelmingly non-controversial policing strategies. Under this new law, a law enforcement officer is subject to criminal prosecution if he or she even asks a minor or young adult under the age of 21 to consent to a search or otherwise conducts such a search despite reasonable suspicious activity, such as the odor of alcohol or marijuana. However, there are no tools available for an officer to know the ages of individuals that may be encountered. An honest mistake in ascertaining someone’s age, intentions or degree of impairment subjects the officer to prosecution for a crime. As a result, an officer risks criminal liability for engaging with a class of individuals who may be breaking the law or who may be engaged in the illegal drug market by utilizing persons under the age of 21. We believe this severely limits the ability of our agencies to police our parks, schools, beaches, and communities effectively, thereby increasing the risks to public safety, the risks to children from illicit drugs and alcohol and the risks to society from criminal drug activity cloaked by cannabis. Although far from perfect, New Jersey has long been a progressive policing jurisdiction. This Association supports decriminalization for adult use cannabis and our members work daily across the state to increase positive interactions between law enforcement and the communities we serve. We strive to increase the professionalism and training of our officers and agencies while recognizing that there are bad actors in all occupations and walks of life and such individuals deserve to meet the consequence of the law. However, criminalizing honest and well-intended law enforcement is not the way to cure our society from the ills of racial disparities and hundreds of years of systemic racism. Simply put, our communities will be less safe and our children more at risk.
This document contains frequently asked questions (FAQs) to address some of the substantial issues, concerns, and situations that will arise for law enforcement as we all strive to understand, implement, and apply the new cannabis legalization and marijuana decriminalization laws. We anticipate expanding the FAQs as we encounter additional, and more subtle and complex, issues and gain experience and insight into the challenges presented by the new laws.
What should an officer do if they smell marijuana coming from a vehicle during a motor vehicle stop?
First, the officer should take the traditional investigative steps to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the driver is operating the vehicle while under the influence, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. If so, the driver may be arrested and the vehicle may be searched. If the driver is not found to be under the influence, the new laws are clear that the odor of marijuana, either burned or raw, by itself does not establish reasonable suspicion to justify a continued stop, nor probable cause to conduct a search of the vehicle or the person, in a marijuana possession case or even in a low-level (fourth-degree) possession with intent to distribute marijuana case. As a result, the vehicle and occupants must be released once the initial reason for the stop has been addressed.
May an officer initiate or continue a pedestrian stop of an individual based on the officer detecting the odor of marijuana?
No, the new laws are clear that the odor of marijuana, either burned or raw, by itself does not establish reasonable suspicion to justify or continue a pedestrian stop. In addition, the odor of marijuana by itself does not establish probable cause to conduct a search in a marijuana possession case or even a low-level (fourth-degree) possession with intent to distribute marijuana case. The age of the person being stopped is irrelevant in these situations.
What happens when a law enforcement officer encounters an individual under the age of 21 who is in possession of marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or alcohol?
Law enforcement officers must be cautious when they encounter an individual under the age of 21 who is in possession of marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or alcohol. The officer can seize the marijuana, hashish, cannabis, and alcohol and issue the appropriate written warning. However, the new law also sets forth the following prohibitions on officers when investigating possession or consumption of marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or alcohol by an underage individual to determine a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15: • Officers may not request consent from an individual who is under the age of 21; • Officers may not use odor of marijuana to stop an individual who is under the age of 21 or to search the individual’s personal property or vehicle; • Officers who observe marijuana in plain view will not be able to search the individual or the individual’s personal property or vehicle. • Officers may not arrest, detain, or otherwise take an individual under the age of 21 into custody for a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15 except to the extent required to issue a written warning or provide notice of a violation to a parent/guardian
Does the new law alter the use of my body worn camera (BWC) in any way?
The law requires that whenever an officer is equipped with a BWC, the BWC must be activated when responding to or handling a call involving a violation or suspected violation of the amended N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15, which addresses the underage possession or consumption of alcohol, marijuana, hashish, or cannabis. The BWC may not be deactivated for any reason throughout the entire encounter. Underage refers to people under the age of 21.
How does decriminalization and legalization change fingerprinting?
Marijuana is still by definition pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-2 a “controlled dangerous substance,” and, therefore, appropriately charged violations involving marijuana or hashish are still subject to fingerprint compliance under N.J.S.A. 53:1-18.1. However, when law enforcement officers encounter an individual who has violated N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(12)(b) (distribution/possession with intent to distribute 1 ounce or less) or N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(3)(b) (possession of more than 6 ounces), the officer is prohibited under the law from arresting, detaining, or otherwise bringing that individual into the station, which means the officer will be unable to fingerprint the violator at the time of the incident. Therefore, those individuals must be fingerprinted at their first court appearance.
Individuals under the age of 21 who are in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15(a)(1) are precluded from being fingerprinted under the new law
“We are pleased to support this initiative and to be an integral part of spreading the Responsible Play message to the general public and to our Lottery retailers by launching the Lottery’s March 2021 Problem Gambling Awareness Month Campaign,” said New Jersey Lottery Executive Director James A. Carey, Jr. “’Awareness + Action’ is the theme for this month-long campaign.”
Throughout the month, the New Jersey Lottery will be working with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. (CCGNJ) to educate the general public and health care professionals about the importance of playing responsibly and the warning signs of problem gambling.
As part of that effort, the Lottery and the Council have developed a video to raise awareness about Problem Gambling Awareness Month and to provide information about the help available both locally and nationally for anyone who may experience a gambling disorder. The video is available for viewing on the “Responsible Play” page of the Lottery’s website.
To reinforce that message, the Lottery launched an advertising campaign based on the message, “Dream big. Play responsibly. Life is about balance. The New Jersey Lottery is a provider of fun and entertaining games that should be played responsibly. The Lottery should not be considered or played as an alternative source of income.”
According to Neva Pryor, executive director of the CCGNJ, “The Lottery is a valuable partner with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey in efforts to reinforce the message about the importance of playing responsibly and to share information about the warning signs that gambling is becoming a problem. We are pleased to partner with the Lottery in producing this video to raise awareness about gambling disorders. Call 1-800-GAMBLER if you or someone you know has a gambling problem: we offer support, treatment and hope.”
DELAWARE TOWNSHIP, NJ (HUNTERDON)–Join the Delaware Township Environmental Commission and Bull’s Island Recreation Area for a towpath cleanup between Prallsville Mill and Bull’s Island Recreation Area in Hunterdon County. Early Spring is a great time to pick up litter before the grass and brambles are growing. Due to COVID-19 we are asking for groups between the sizes of 4-8 people to adopt a cleanup area along the D&R Canal and Bulls Island. The groups must be comprised of people who have already been spending time together such as family groups, scout groups, church groups, sport teams, etc. Supplies such as gloves, bags and pickers will be provided.
Every group must have a designated leader who would be responsible for registration and be the point of contact for day of the event. Each group will work in a separate location and registration times will be staggered for social distancing purposes and masks are required. There will be a limit of 6 groups so register early!
Meeting place: Bull’s Island Recreation Area, 2185 Daniel Bray Highway,
Time to meet: First registration begins at 8:15 and continues until 9:20 a.m.
What to wear: Layers, long pants, sturdy footwear. Clean-up tshirt provided!
What to bring: Masks are required. We will be providing gloves but you are welcome to bring your own.
Families are welcome, with at least 1 adult per 3 children under 13.
Children, ages 13 to 16, can be chaperoned with 1 adult per 5 children.
UPDATE 63/3/2021: According to Detective Vincent Bonner of the Howell Township Police Department Detective Bureau the robbery occurred at approximately 2:30 am on March 2, 2021. The robbers smashed though the front door using a sledgehammer and took $15,000. Worth of merchandise. Police are looking for a Silver Ford Expedition 1997-2002 operated by heavyset Hispanic male. If you have information relevant to the robbery please call Detective Bonner of Howell Twp. Police Department at 732-938-4575 extension 2647 with any details.
March 2, 2021
HOWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Barg’s Lawn and Garden posted several videos of a robbery last night on their Facebook page and is reportedly offering a $1,000.00 reward. This family owned and operated business since 1954 and if you happen to know anything about the robbery contact please call Detective Bonner of Howell Twp. Police Department at 732-938-4575 extension 2647 with any details. In the videos you can see the robbers break in and steal several chain saws and other small equipment before leaving.