ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — Eight people were arrested after two alleged high-volume heroin mills were shuttered by authorities in northern New Jersey.

The arrests announced Monday stemmed from raids conducted Friday afternoon in Linden and Union Township. Authorities seized what they said was the equivalent of more than 4,300 bricks of heroin with an estimated street value of more than $3 million.

Operation Silver Bullet
Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ

"The seized drugs amounted to in excess of hundreds of thousands of individual doses of heroin," said Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park during a press conference Monday morning in Elizabeth.

Park said the ring was allegedly headed by 35-year-old William Camino of Elizabeth, whose bail was set at $2 million. He was charged with racketeering, conspiracy, maintaining a drug manufacturing facility, possession of heroin with the intent to distribute and two lesser drug offenses. Camino is believed to have been running both mills -- one located in the 300 block of Richford Terrace in Linden, a residential neighborhood.

The remaining defendants face various charges related to the mills, including racketeering, drug possession and maintaining a drug manufacturing facility. They are identified as Yakin Bryant, 34, of Elizabeth; Richard Gayle, 25, of Plainfield; Jasmin Sanchez, 23, of Jersey City; Arain Juarez-Alvarez, 25, of the Bronx; Frank Pino, 29, of Elizabeth; Lakisha Mensah, 24, of East Windsor; and Eraiadna Victoria Mentor, 23, of Linden.

The arrests stem from a month-long joint investigation by the prosecutor's office and federal officials that was dubbed "Operation Silver Bullet." Authorities said the heroin mills supplied "wholesale-quantity amounts" of narcotics to people in "multiple counties" in New Jersey, as well as multiple out-of-state urban areas.

Raw heroin was actively being processed and prepared for street sale at the Linden location when the search warrants were executed there, authorities said. More than 2,300 grams of raw, uncut heroin, 1,400 bricks of processed heroin (one brick containing 50 bags), and more than 13,000 additional loose bags of heroin were seized in total. Weapons and ammunition, drug production equipment, and a specially-modified SUV with a trapdoor were also found in the raid.

Besides the alleged mills, search warrants related to the ongoing investigation were also executed Friday at two sites in Elizabeth.

Christopher Jakim, special agent in charge of investigations with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the bust doesn't solve New Jersey's ongoing heroin epidemic but does offer a temporary respite in Union County.

"We will see a temporary impact as far as availability of heroin on the streets in Union County and elsewhere," Jakim said.

Ilya Hemlin contributed to this report.

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