The New Jersey State Police announced today that 32 people were arrested, including a police officer and public works employee, in the takedown of two independent drug trafficking organizations operating out of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Detectives recovered from both organizations more than 4 kilograms of cocaine, over three ounces of heroin, 16 pounds of marijuana, 1,000 Xanax pills, Oxycotin and ecstasy pills, a large variety of steroids, one handgun, seven vehicles, and more than $125,000 cash.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Tidal Wave,” began in October of 2014 and targeted drug trafficking organizations operating in Middletown Township, Monmouth County and Beachwood Township, Ocean County. The cooperative effort was led by the New Jersey State Police Trafficking Central Unit and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-Atlantic City Office, with assistance from the Division of Criminal Justice, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Middletown Township Police Department, and the Jersey City Police Department.
The first organization, named the “Scattaglia Network,” was run by Ed Scattaglia, Jr., of Middletown, N.J. He is the alleged ringleader of a sophisticated drug trafficking network that distributed primarily cocaine in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Over the course of the investigation, Scattaglia allegedly used his residence as the focal point of his distribution network where he would meet with various individuals and supply them with cocaine for redistribution.
During the course of the investigation, detectives discovered that Francisco Romero, 38, of Englewood, N.J., supplied Scattaglia with multiple kilograms of cocaine. Romero allegedly used his residence at 159 John Street, Englewood, N.J., to store bulk quantities of cocaine for distribution purposes. Detectives seized approximately one kilogram of cocaine from the Scattaglia network, valued at $40,000.
On June 2, 2014, State Police detectives and the Englewood Police Department executed a search warrant at Romero’s residence. As a result of the search, detectives seized one pound of cocaine, $75,000.00 cash, an Acura TSX, and other assets valued at $50,000. That same day, a search warrant executed at Scattaglia’s residence yielded approximately $15,000 cash, drug paraphernalia, marijuana, and a BMW 325XI.
The second trafficking operation was dubbed the “Beachwood Network.” It operated in Beachwood Township and the surrounding area. The network was responsible for the distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and pharmaceutical pills.
Through various investigative means, detectives located the network’s heroin mill, which was identified as a manufacturing facility and stash-house, in Seaside Heights, N.J. On April 9, 2015, detectives arrested Barry “Buzzy” McCombs at 302 Blaine Avenue, Seaside Heights. Detectives seized more than 15 grams of raw heroin, more than 275 decks of packaged heroin, over one ounce of cocaine, and other paraphernalia consistent with the packaging and preparation of heroin. The total drug value seized from this location was more than $10,000.
Detectives were able to locate and dismantle a second mill associated with the Beachwood Network. On April 20, 2015, investigators executed a search warrant at 828 Summer Avenue, Elizabeth, N.J., which was determined to be the source of cocaine supply for the Beachwood Network. As a result of the search warrant, Andres Genao and Jose Limardo were arrested at that location, and detectives seized 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, a kilogram press machine, and paraphernalia consistent with the operation of a manufacturing facility. The approximate drug value seized from this location was over $75,000.
As a result of Operation Tidal Wave, two public employees were arrested and charged. Former Camden County Police Officer Matthew Van Houten was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine while he was employed as a police officer. Additionally, Albert Logan, who worked for the Ocean County Road Department, was charged with hindering apprehension and loitering to purchase a controlled dangerous substance.
“These ring members allegedly were dealing large quantities of heroin and prescription pills in Monmouth and Ocean counties, which have been particularly hard hit by the devastating epidemic of opiate addiction sweeping the nation and New Jersey,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “Through operations such as this one, we are taking aim at the criminals who are maliciously fueling the epidemic and profiting from it.”
“These organizations poison our communities with drugs and the violence that goes hand-in-hand with distribution,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The success of Operation Tidal Wave is due to the great work by our Trafficking Central Unit and our partners, which resulted in 32 arrests that included a police officer and public works employee and prevented a large quantity of drugs from reaching our streets.”
“These drug dealers trafficked in serious volume, as demonstrated by the large stash of drugs we seized in this joint operation,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By partnering across all levels of law enforcement, we have shut down a significant pipeline through which heroin, oxycodone and other deadly and addictive drugs were entering these Shore communities.”
This case will be prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice under the Office of the Attorney General.