State officials say lives will be saved in New Jersey after investigators brought down a major drug kingpin and 14 members of his violent drug ring. State prosecutors say the criminal organization has been a major supplier of heroin and cocaine in the Camden and North Philadelphia area for years.

Fernando “Gordo” Diaz-Rivera, 33, who officials say had been running the enterprise from Puerto Rico for the past several months, is facing 25 years to life in prison on the first-degree racketeering and drug-dealing charges.

He already was in custody in Puerto Rico, where he has a home, on weapons charges. Diaz-Rivera also has a home in Salem City.

Two suspects in the seven-month Operation Inferno takedown remain at large.

Authorities said they confiscated an estimated $2 million worth of cocaine. Prosecutors said the ring dropped 20 to 30 kilos of heroin and cocaine into the region every month. The drugs were obtained from Mexican drug suppliers, officals said.

Attorney General Christopher Porrino said the bust will make Camden safer by “starv[ing] many of those dealers of a reliable source of high-quality heroin and cocaine.”

“The ring we allege was led by Diaz-Rivera supplied a majority of the drug dealers and drug sets in Camden, directly fueling the violence that goes with street-level drug dealing and its perpetual turf battles,” he said.

“Lives will be saved as a result of Operation Inferno,” said Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson. “The aggressive targeting of the wholesale distributors who are supplying our streets with the very drugs that are causing thousands of overdoses and hundreds of deaths in our region each year will be welcomed news to the communities and families that have been ravaged by the unconscionable actions of these dealers.”

Luis “Moodo” Ortiz-Merced, 33, of Philadelphia, was charged as another high-ranking member of the ring.

The alleged wholesale distributors:

  • Vinicio Savinon-Paulino, 38, of the Bronx.
  • Luis “Chucho” Medero, 34, of Camden
  • Helmer “E” Garcia, 27, of Camden
  • Javier “Jav” Rosa-Romero, 30, of Salinas, Puerto Rico, and Camden

Alleged drug dealers included:

  • Angel “Choiry” Padilla, 43, of Camden
  • Alexis “Papote” Burgos, 37, of Mount Holly
  • Juan Carlo Moreno Borrero Jr., 19, of Salinas, Puerto Rico, and Camden
  • Angel “Chongo” Rosa-Ramos, 24, of Camden — who remained a fugitive Thursday
  • Angel “Pica” Martinez, 38, of Camden

Diaz-Rivera’s girlfriend, Karina Elice Olmeda-Burgos, 21, of Salem City, is accused of handling drug proceeds. She was still a fugitive Thursday.

In late September, Medero and Aleisha Marin-Vializ, 27, of Camden, allegedly drove from Camden to Chicago to pick up 10 kilograms of drugs.

Once back in Camden on Oct. 2, their car was pulled over by state detectives, who said they confiscated 5 kilograms of cocaine and 5 kilograms of heroin under a rear seat.

One of the dealers, Padilla, allegedly had another supplier — Jonathan Contreras, 28, of Camden — who mailed drugs from a supplier in Puerto Rico. Marcos Mendoza, 19, of Camden, also is accused of getting the drug mail deliveries.

Investigators and the U.S. Postal Service say they intercepted two such packages with 4 kilos of cocaine.

Diaz-Rivera and Rosa-Romero were already being held in a federal detention center in Puerto Rico. Ortiz-Merced was being held in Pennsylvania on a prior drug charge.

Savinon-Paulino was being held in New York City.

The other defendants were arrested in New Jersey and are being held in the Camden County Jail with bails ranging from $250,000 to $400,000.

All of the defendants except Contreras and Mendoza are charged with first-degree racketeering.

Contreras, Mendoza, Diaz-Rivera, Ortiz-Merced, Medero and Marin-Vializ are charged first-degree possession of narcotics with intent to distribute.

Padilla is charged with first-degree distribution of narcotics.

All are charged with second-degree conspiracy.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email

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