New Jersey Online Cocaine Ring Uncovered: 11 Men Arrested
During Operation Skin Deep, a police action started as an undercover mission, 11 men from New Jersey were arrested for running an online drug ring. Christopher Castelluzzo (31), of Lake Hopatcong, was charged as the leader of the gang, and he had also been charged with the conspiracy to commit murder for his alleged role in trying to kill two men in a drug dispute, according to court documents.
According to Attorney General John Hoffman, Operation Skin Deep started as an undercover investigation into cocaine sales in Atlantic City. However, during the police action, law enforcement authorities uncovered that the gang is using the internet to sell and the postal service to distribute cocaine and designer drugs to their clients. Hoffman added:
âOur racketeering indictment alleges that this ring of criminals had a cyber-age approach to distributing multiple kilograms of cocaine as well as designer drugs. However, we allege that they were typical drug dealers in their willingness to resort to violence, as evidenced by the murder conspiracy we charged. Our seizure of $1.2 million from the trunk of a ring member â one of the largest cash seizures in state history â speaks to the huge illicit profits these drug traffickers were reaping.â
If the Castelluzzo is convicted, he could face 25 years of prison time. The manâs direct partners were Luke A. Atwell (34) and Aldo T. Lapaix (28) who had been both charged. The three men also had âassociatesâ who had been also indicted by court: Eric Rodriguez (45), Henry Bracy (46), Shazad Khan (32), Jose A. Garcia-Hernandez (51), Mervin Menier (43), Christian Collado (27) and âDreâ, an unidentified male. All of them are New Jersey citizens.
According to Hoffman, police found $1.2 million in cash in the trunk of Kahnâs car in 2015, which was the biggest seizure in New Jersey history. During the house search, around quarter-million dollars in cash was seized, along with jewelry, gold bars and 0.25 kilograms of cocaine. Also, ânumerous rounds of ammunition,â firearm silencers, cocaine testing kit, packaging materials and other related equipment were found.
Castelluzzo, Atwell, Rodriguez, and Bracy are all charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit murder for an alleged plot to kill a former associate and that manâs bodyguard in a dispute over drugs, but the plan was never carried out. Castelluzo, Atwell, Lapaix, Menier, Collado, and âDreâ are also charged with first-degree distribution of cocaine or possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
Jose Ruvalcaba (28), from California and Jamaal Johnson (30), of Maryland, were also arrested in this case. They have been both connected to Castelluzzoâs ring.
Three other New Jersey citizens were charged with cocaine distribution offenses: Thomas Bullock (62), Thomas White (31), Benjamin DiPilla (28).