ATLANTIC CITY — Multiple agencies said it took them months to take down a narcotics network and charge 16 people, 14 of them from New Jersey, with various related crimes.

The Atlantic City Police Department announced the arrests Tuesday in conjunction with the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, and the Drug Enforcement Administration's Atlantic City Resident Office and Liberty Mid-Atlantic Atlantic County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Task Force.

The investigation, the agencies said, was centered around Florida Avenue and the Ducktown section of Atlantic City, and its surrounding areas.

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Brothers Joseph and Justin Suarez, both 37 and of Atlantic City, were identified as the ringleaders who used stash locations and street-level dealers, authorities said, to traffic cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl, the particular combined strain of the latter two being known as "Bad Bunny" and linked to and least 25 overdoses including eight fatalities.

Members of Atlantic City and County SWAT teams, New Jersey and New York DEA agents, and the New Jersey State Police executed 10 residential search warrants that yielded 39,250 individual folds, within about 785 bricks, of the heroin/fentanyl mix, seven ounces of cocaine, unspecified quantities of crack cocaine and suspected fentanyl pills, four handguns including one stolen firearm and one "ghost gun," ammunition, and a cash amount of $86,650 in suspected drug sale proceeds.

All but one of those arrested, which include eight other Atlantic City residents in addition to the Suarez brothers, were remanded to the Atlantic County Justice Facility.

The Suarezes were each charged with first-degree leader of a narcotics trafficking network, two counts of first-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, three counts of second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, second-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, three counts of third-degree unlawful possession of CDS, and third-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity.

Maurice Braxton, 34, of Atlantic City, Safiya Braxton, 36, of Atlantic City, Howard Cubbag, 57, of Atlantic City, James Dimeo, 59, of Atlantic City, Keith Potter, 60, of Galloway, and Arcadia Ridley, 32, of Absecon were charged with two counts each of first-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, three counts of second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, second-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, three counts of unlawful possession of CDS, and third-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity.

Yoao Jerez-Tejada, 37, and Jose Perez Paredes, both of Philadelphia, were charged with first-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, third-degree unlawful possession of CDS, and third-degree distribution of CDS on or near school property.

Terrea Acosta, 55, Brianna Perez, 30, and Lydia Santana, 31, all of Atlantic City, were charged with three counts of second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, and third-degree financial facilitation of criminal activity.

Orlando Peguero-Perez, 36, of West New York was charged with second-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, second-degree unlawful possession and distribution of CDS within 500 feet of school property, third-degree distribution of CDS on or near school property, and third-degree money laundering.

Michael Howell, 35, of Atlantic City, was charged with third-degree distribution of marijuana, third-degree possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of marijuana.

Additionally, Malik Lyons, 22, of Egg Harbor Township was released on a summons with a future court date on various charges, including second-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, third-degree unlawful possession of CDS, first-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, possession of a handgun without having first obtained a permit, second-degree possession of a firearm while committing a CDS offense, certain persons not to possess a firearm, and fourth-degree receiving stolen property.

Anyone with further information is asked to contact the Atlantic City Police Department Special Investigations Section at 609-347-5858, or text anonymous tips to tip411 (847411), beginning the text with ACPD.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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