26 busted: Dealers brought 25,000 bags of heroin into Ocean County a week, cops say
In the last two weeks, authorities have arrested 26 people they say collectively imported 25,000 bags of heroin and large amounts of prescription painkillers into Ocean County each week.
In a series of raids at 16 locations, authorities also seized two cars, an AR 15 assault rifle, a Ruger semi-automatic pistol, about $50,000 in cash and several other drugs, according to an announcement from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
Allegedly heading the heroin operation was Melvin "Money" Vankpana, 23, of Lakewood and Neptune. He was arrested as part of the final and largest phase of the three-part "Summer Sweep," dubbed "Operation MVP."
According to authorities, Vankpana and his network would use locations in Toms River, Lakewood, Brick Township, Jackson and Neptune Township to sell and store heroin.
Police are still looking for three Lakewood residents alleged to be involved in the operation: Jameer Jones, 22; Dasean Donaldson, 20; and Dajun Morris, 23, all of Lakewood. Each is accused of heroin possession and distribution.
In the first phase of the sweep, detectives from the Prosecutor’s Office's Special Operations Group, Northern Enforcement Unit teamed with the Berkeley Township, South Toms River and Toms River Police Departments to arrest six Ocean County residents on various drug charges, the prosecutor's office said.
That phase involved a two-month-long undercover investigation and five no-knock search warrants for residences in the Manitou Park section of Berkeley Township and South Toms River. On May 25, the authorities — including the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, the Ocean County Regional SWAT Team and the State Police TEAMS Unit — seized nearly a thousand bags of heroin, a "quantity" of marijuana, assorted drug paraphernalia and approximately $6000 in cash, authorities said.
In a second phase, after another month-long investigation, two more Ocean County residents were arrested a day later at a Seaside Heights apartment on charges they distributed OxyCodone in that area. Authorities say they found Oxycodone, "wax" marijuana derivative, assorted drug paraphernalia and approximately $2350 in cash.
But the largest part of the sweep by far came on Thursday — the product of an investigation authorities say began late last year, focusing on "high-level" heroin distributors.
Early Thursday morning, authorities from several local agencies executed nine no-knock search warrants in Lakewood, Brick Township, Jackson and Neptune Township. At the same time, members of the U.S. Marshals Service, along with members of the Prosecutor’s Special Operations Group, the Toms River Police Department and the Lakewood Township Police department responded to residences in Toms River and Lakewood to execute arrest warrants associated with this operation, police said.
In that sweep, they seized approximately 8000 individual dosage units of heroin, quantities of prescription pills, cocaine and marijuana, the two guns and approximately $40,000 in cash, the prosecutor's office said.
Authorities are asking anyone with information about those still at large to contact the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Special Operations Group at 732-341-6150 or 732-929-2027.
The prosecutor's office said the investigation is continuing and it expects to make more arrests.
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