June 8, 2023
TRENTON, N.J. – A Mercer County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 130 months in prison for his role as the leader of a Trenton drug-trafficking organization responsible for the distribution of heroin in the Trenton area, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Robert M. Gbanapolor, 36, of Trenton, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to a superseding indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; one count of possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute a detectable amount of heroin.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
From June 2018 through May 2019, Gbanapolor and others engaged in a heroin trafficking conspiracy in the areas of Stuyvesant, Hoffman, and Highland avenues in Trenton, as well as in the area of Barbary Road in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gbanapolor obtained regular bulk supplies of heroin from Duane Paulino-Escalera, whom Gbanapolor referred to as “Papi.” Gbanapolor, in turn, distributed this heroin for profit to other members of the drug-trafficking organization, who distributed the heroin in and around Trenton. Paulino-Escalera pleaded guilty in January 2020 and was sentenced on May 7, 2021, to five years in prison.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Shipp sentenced Gbanapolor to four years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division, Camden Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Ortiz; and task force officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Steve Wilson, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. 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 David Harkins; 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 Bryan Miller.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. 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 Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric A. Boden, Attorney in Charge of the Trenton Office, and Michelle Gasparian, Chief of the Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Mark W. Catanzaro Esq., Mt. Holly, New Jersey