A Paterson-based narcotics network that allegedly was responsible for illegally distributing more than one thousand pills per week of the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone has been taken down.  The alleged ringleader and 19 others have been charged in connection with the case.

Office of the NJ Attorney General (Click image to enlarge)

The investigation, dubbed "Operation White Silk," began in March.  The alleged ringleader, 59-year-old Aurelio Gutierrez of Paterson was arrested on July 11 with Daniel Blanco of the Bronx, New York.  Authorities allege Blanco is a dealer who bought pills from Gutierrez, but also supplied Gutierrez with pills at times.  They were arrested as Gutierrez allegedly sold 110 oxycodone pills to Blanco.  Search warrants that day led to the seizure of more than 500 oxycodone pills from Gutierrez's vehicle and home.  He is charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, which is a first-degree crime that carries a sentence of life in prison.  He's also charged with distribution.  The other 19 defendants are charged with second-degree conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance.

"Oxycodone pain pills are at the heart of an epidemic of opiate addiction that is killing too many young people in New Jersey, either directly through pill overdoses or by moving them on to the cheaper alternative of heroin, which is being sold on the streets at lethal purity levels," said Acting Attorney General John Hoffman.  "We charge that Gutierrez and his associates were cashing in on this epidemic by selling more than one thousand oxycodone pills per week.  Working with law enforcement across the state, we've ramped up our efforts to take down criminal enterprises like this that peddle addiction and death."

“Many factors drive the diversion of opiate painkillers, including overprescribing of the drugs, the prevalence of prescription fraud, and the high price these pills command on the street,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “This pill ring we dismantled in Operation White Silk reaped its supply of oxycodone pills from a variety of sources.  As resourceful as these dealers may be in obtaining pills, we vow to be more resourceful in catching them and putting them behind bars.”

“It is essential that law enforcement work together to eliminate narcotic distribution networks of this nature and send those involved in these schemes to prison. I want to commend the Attorney General’s Office, DEA, the Officers from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and all members of law enforcement who participated in ‘Operation White Silk.’ The only way of truly reducing the amount of oxycodone on our streets is through comprehensive long-term investigations of this nature,” said Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik.

The following is a list of the 20 defendants charged to date:


Aurelio Gutierrez, 59, of Paterson.


These seven individuals allegedly were dealers or “pill brokers” who bought oxycodone pills and other prescription narcotics from Gutierrez for distribution in northern New Jersey.  In some instances, they supplied pills to Gutierrez.

Daniel Blanco, 47, of the Bronx, N.Y., arrested with Gutierrez,

William Hernandez, 39, of Paterson,

Thomas Lamera, 58, of Warren

David Licata, Jr., 34, of Nutley,

Marcos Moya, 33, of Paterson,

Jason Wagoner, 35, of Lafayette, and

Keith Bye, 50, of Hackensack.


These 12 individuals allegedly were “runners” who obtained oxycodone pills and other prescription narcotics and sold them to Gutierrez.

Shakera Brown, 53, of Paterson,

Dwight Nero, 57, of Paterson,

Robert Ayala, 54, of Paterson,

Omar Gonzalez, 42, of Paterson,

Daniel Maldonado, 55, of Paterson,

John Mosley, 48, of Hackensack,

Larry Garrett, 49, of Lodi,

David Reames, 52, of Paterson,

Antoine Watkins, 31, of Paterson,

Nilda Ortiz, 61, of Paterson,

Maria Centeno, 48, of Paterson, and

Carmen Shannon, 45, of Paterson.

Those arrested were lodged in the Passaic County Jail.  Bail for Gutierrez was set at $275,000 cash.