TRENTON, N.J. – Two California men who were arrested in Mercer County, New Jersey, with over 50 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and nine kilograms of heroin appeared Wednesday in Trenton federal court, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced, following a following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark investigation, which also included N.J. State Police, and Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division.
Gabriel Acosta Villa, 29, of Lake Forest, California, and Oscar Perez Jr., 23, of Santa Ana, California, are both charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin. They appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois H. Goodman and were detained.
According to the complaint:
On June 17, 2018, law enforcement officers received information that a commercial truck driver and his accomplice planned to sell approximately 50 pounds of crystal methamphetamine to a buyer in the Trenton area. Law enforcement officers set up surveillance near the parking lot of a Robbinsville, New Jersey, restaurant and observed Acosta walking through the parking lot with two large bags. After Acosta entered a nearby vehicle, law enforcement officers stopped the vehicle and discovered 51.31 pounds of a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine.
After detaining Acosta, law enforcement officers searched the area and discovered Perez walking alone near the loading docks of a nearby hardware store. A large white tractor trailer was parked nearby with the engine still running. A subsequent search of the tractor’s cab uncovered 9.5 kilograms of a substance that tested positive for heroin.
Both defendants face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine.
U.S. Attorney Carpentio credited special agents of HSI Cherry Hill, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Richard Reinhold, and overseen by Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael of HSI Newark, and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Valerie A. Nickerson in Newark, with the investigation. He also thanked officers of the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan, for their assistance.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Lorber of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.