Uber driver among four facing money laundering, drug charges in Bergen County
EDGEWATER — A combined investigation by local, county, and federal authorities led to the arrest of four men and the discovery of what was described as a drug mill in the borough.
Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir. S. Grewal said the investigation started when two men, identified as Allen Statam, 55, of Miramar Florida, and Juan Norzagaray, 33, of Tucson Arizona were seen in the parking lot of the Riverside Square Mall in Hackensack.
The men were identified after a call to law enforcement about suspicious men in the area, and were found with nearly $69,000 in cash. Grewal said it was determined the money came from "criminal activity," and the men were arrested on charges of money laundering.
Further investigation led members of the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, Hackensack Police Department, Edgewater Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Agency to a home in Edgewater where more money and drugs were believed to be.
Gary Mertil, 32, from West New York was found outside the home and in possession of marijuana, and after receiving a search warrant, authorities found Darnell Miller, 34, of Edgewater in the home. It was during the execution of the search warrant when the mill was found, including three kilograms of cocaine, nearly 30 pounds of marijuana, close to an ounce of heroin, and a kilogram press machine. Investigators also found a money counting machine, large digital scales, a hand gun, and more than $180,000 in cash.
Miller was charged with one count of first degree possession with intent to distribute for cocaine, one count of first degree possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of first degree maintaining or operating a premise for the purpose of manufacturing cocaine/heroin/marijuana.
He was also charged with second degree possession with intent to distribute heroin, one count of second degree possession of a firearm while committing a controlled dangerous substance crime, one count of second degree money laundering, one count of fourth degree tampering with evidence, three counts of third degree possession with intent to distribute within a school zone, among others. He was sent to the Bergen County Jail pending a first appearance.
Statam was charged with money laundering after being found with the large sum of money and was released on his own recognizance pending a first court date. Norzagaray was also charged with money laundering, and was also released on his own recognizance. Mertil was charged with one count of possession of marijuana under 50 grams, and was also released on his own recognizance.
Three of the four men are listed by the prosecutor's are listed as unemployed. Mertil is listed as a driver for the ride sharing company Uber.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com