36 charged in alleged N.J. drug ring

Jan. 11, 2013 at 2:44 PM

CAMDEN, N.J., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- More than 30 people participated in a heroin gang that controlled street drug markets in Camden, N.J., an indictment unsealed Friday charged.

New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said the drug operation had ties to two criminal street gangs, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported.

He said the state put the operation out of business in May when 41 people were arrested.

"By identifying this large, well-organized criminal enterprise and targeting the organization from top to bottom with a first-degree racketeering indictment, we're taking strong aim at the drug dealing that is fueling violence and destroying the lives of residents," Chiesa said.

The alleged ringleaders -- Noel Gonzalez, 43, and Michael Rivera, 29, both Camden residents -- face at least 25 years without parole, and possible life in prison, if they are convicted of the most serious charges.

All 36 people named in the indictment are charged with racketeering and conspiracy and 25 with drug distribution or possession with intent to distribute.

Investigators said Gonzalez and Rivera employed "case workers" as managers, who arranged for heroin to be distributed to the "set managers" who handled sales in four open-air drug markets. The money would then flow back up the line.

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