NJ cops: $1M, yacht confiscated after surprise discovery of drug mill
EAST RUTHERFORD — Prosecutors say police scuttled a million-dollar opioid facility being run out of an Amazon driver's apartment, confiscating numerous luxury items including a 40-foot yacht.
The drug investigation began Wednesday after police were called to a medical emergency at an East Rutherford apartment in The Monarch, where they found three men who appeared to be under the influence.
Police notified the Bergen County Hazmat team when they noticed that things in the apartment where all coated with some sort of powder.
The powder turned out to be fentanyl, prosecutors said. After obtaining a search warrant, investigators discovered a "large-scale" fentanyl production facility in the apartment, including a pill press and thousands of fentanyl-laced pills disguised as Oxycodone, Oxycodone and Percocet. They also confiscated $12,000 in suspected drug-sale proceeds.
Police arrested the three men who had been in the apartment — Frank Smith III, 37, of Mahwah, Raymond Ulloa, 30, of Belleville, and Sandy Leonardomateo, 24, of Elizabeth — along with Donald Wallace, 25, a Newark resident who leased the apartment and who had arrived when emergency responders were helping the three others.
Hours later, police also arrested Smith's wife, Joie Smith, 34, and two women — 39-year-old Manhattan bartender Yaritza Ochart, and 43-year-old San Rafael, California, resident Michelle Casillo — after a surveillance crew said they caught the women loading bags into two cars at the Smith's six-bedroom, million-dollar home in the Rio Vista section of Mahwah.
Prosecutors said the women were trying to drive away with $325,000 in cash.
Police at the residence found paperwork showing that Smith III had recently purchased a yacht, which was docked at the Alpine Boat Basin. Prosecutors have filed court motions to confiscate the yacht, cash, five vehicles and designer jewelry and watches.
Police said the search of the home turned up another $12,000 in suspected drug proceeds, several thousand fentanyl pills, raw fentanyl and heroin and chemicals used to cut the drugs before sale.
The men were charged with first-degree charges of maintaining a drug-production facility and second-degree charges of fentanyl possession with intent to distribute. The women were charged with second-degree money laundering. Joie Smith was additionally charged with possession with intent to distribute.
Million-dollar drug bust in North Jersey
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.