Charges have been dropped against nearly 40 defendants in southern New Jersey after officials discovered a police detective misled a judge in an application to secure a search warrant.

Cumberland County prosecutors said they moved to drop the charges -- which in most cases involved drug offenses -- because Vineland Detective Gami Cruz's testimony would have been needed to carry on with the prosecutions.

County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae announced the 39 case dismissals Tuesday night, saying it was necessary "in the interest of justice." It came after officials learned Cruz lied about an informant to a state Superior Court judge because he was concerned for the informant's safety.

Vineland police officials have moved to fire Cruz, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

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