An investigation into marijuana and THC distribution in New Jersey led to the arrest of 24 suspects according to a Jan. 7 press release from Monmouth County prosecutors. Law enforcement dubbed the investigation “Operation On The Ropes.” One suspect escaped police and is viewed as a fugitive from justice. During the course of the investigation, police seized almost $1.5 million in cash and assets worth more than $10 million. The seized assets included 21 luxury vehicles made by manufacturers including Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Mercedes-Benz.
The suspects allegedly purchased boxes of candy from food distributors and then transported them to a warehouse in Manalapan Township for processing. At the warehouse, police say the suspects unwrapped the candy and sprayed it with THC. This is the cannabinoid that gives marijuana its psychoactive characteristics. The suspects then repackaged the candy with edible marijuana branding and stored it at a warehouse in a Monmouth airport. The drugs were allegedly distributed in Bergan, Ocean and Monmouth counties and parts of New York state. According to prosecutors, the candy infused with THC looked identical to products available at supermarkets and convenience stores.
The operation reached its conclusion when investigators executed a dozen search warrants at commercial buildings and residences. These searches allegedly led to the seizure of 21,000 pieces of THC-laced candy, more than 6,000 THC vaporizer cartridges and about 45 kilograms of marijuana. Investigators say the seized drugs would be worth almost $2 million on the street. The suspects face drug possession, manufacturing and distribution charges. The federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that took part in the operation included the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New Jersey State Police, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the Aberdeen, Middleton Township, Neptune City, Keansburg and Lodi Police Departments.
Drug sweeps and plea agreements
When a large group of suspects are taken into custody during a narcotics investigation, prosecutors may make attractive plea offers in return for information. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may suggest that individuals who are facing drug charges think quickly if they are considering such an offer. This is because prosecutors tend to become far less generous once they have gathered the evidence they need.