The following is a press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office:
A Monmouth County grand jury returned a 100-count indictment Thursday charging a dozen people for their roles in a Freehold area drug distribution ring involving heroin, cocaine, marijuana and prescription medications. 33 people were also charged with drug possession and conspiracy offenses, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
The 5-month undercover investigation by federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies dubbed "Operation Justice Served" culminated with the arrest of 42 people between September and November 2016.
"We are faced with a drug problem of epidemic proportions and we must continue our coordinated assault on supply lines that feed off the problem like a cancer," Gramiccioni said.
Most of the criminal activity was concentrated in the borough, with the investigation ultimately leading to the seizure of over 2,700 bags of heroin, 300 grams of cocaine, 16 ounces of marijuana and dozens of prescription pills intended for distribution in and around Freehold. The joint investigation revealed the trafficking network was moving about 2,500 bags of heroin and 200 grams of cocaine a week.
The investigation began in late spring 2016 by focusing on drug sales by Kenneth Crooms, 45, of Bowne Avenue, Freehold Borough, but quickly expanded to include 13 others who were either aiding Crooms in his distribution of drugs or selling drugs.
The grand jury indicted Crooms and his co-defendants listed below with first degree charges of Distribution of Cocaine and Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute, second degree charges of Distribution of Heroin and Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute, two counts each of third degree Distribution and Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Dangerous Substances (marijuana and pain medications) and one count of second degree Conspiracy to Distribute these drugs:
Kelly Andriessen and Erikan Hassan were charged with similar offenses, not including the first degree charges, in November 2016. Their cases were resolved prior to the return of the indictment.
The indictment also charged 33 individuals with third degree offenses of possession of controlled dangerous substances. The investigation revealed that these individuals regularly met Kenneth Crooms or Newman Davis to buy drugs.
Prosecutor Gramiccioni credited numerous law enforcement agencies for their hard work and dedication to the investigation, including: Freehold Borough Police Department, Freehold Township Police Department, Marlboro Police Department, Manalapan Police Department, Howell Police Department, Brielle Police Department, Asbury Park Police Department, Eatontown Police Department, Monmouth County Sheriff's Office, New Jersey State Police, Drug Enforcement Administration and United States Marshals' Service.
If convicted of any of the first degree charges, defendants face a sentence of 10 to 20 years in a New Jersey state prison. If convicted of second degree offenses, defendants face an exposure of five to ten years in state prison, and third degree charge come with a potential custodial sentence of three to five years in state prison.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.
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