CAMDEN, N.J. – Forty-seven individuals were charged Thursday with first degree racketeering in a takedown of a violent narcotics distribution network with ties to Mexican drug cartels. The charges stem from Operation North Pole, a nine-month investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Investigative assistance was provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Cherry Hill, N.J., the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Camden County Police Department-Metro Division, Camden County Sheriff’s Department and the Pennsauken Police Department.
The investigation revealed that the organization, with ties to Mexican drug cartels, was dealing millions of dollars a year in heroin and cocaine in North Camden. All 47, including three brothers who allegedly led the ring, were charged with first-degree racketeering.
Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman made the announcement at the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office with Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice and Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk. A multi-agency team has arrested 34 of the defendants, and the remaining targets are being sought on warrants.
"HSI and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners are determined to eradicate drugs and crime from Camden," said Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of HSI Newark. "New Jersey residents deserve safe, violence-free communities where they can lead a normal life with their families and friends."
"This multi-million dollar narcotics syndicate headed by members of the Urbina family allegedly has operated in North Camden for many years, pushing its poison to countless young users and ruling its turf with intimidation and violence," said Hoffman. "Through Operation North Pole, we are putting an end to this criminal dynasty and making the community safer for the good families who live here."
"The detectives and attorneys who worked on Operation North Pole have dismantled this organized criminal network – from its top-level suppliers and kingpins to its street-level drug pushers," said Honig. "We will continue to build targeted, long-term operations to take down violent drug syndicates and protect the people of Camden."
The arrests include two alleged leaders of the network, Omar Urbina, 39, of Philadelphia, and his brother, Edwin Urbina, 33, of Pennsauken, N.J. In addition to racketeering, they are charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, a first-degree crime that carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Their brother, Edward Urbina, 34, of Camden, who also allegedly headed the ring, is being sought as a fugitive on a racketeering charge. Omar and Edwin Urbina were arrested Nov. 8. Three other arrests were made Nov. 8 and one was made Nov. 11, but most arrests were made Thursday.
The three Urbina brothers allegedly headed a highly organized network that sold hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in heroin and cocaine in North Camden. Associates allegedly "rented" blocks or street corners from the Urbina family, allowing them to sell drugs in those areas. In return, the Urbinas provided protection to the "tenants." The Urbinas allegedly relied on violence to keep interlopers off of their "set."
The Urbina family and its associates allegedly have controlled the open-air drug markets in this area of Camden for many years. The three brothers allegedly relied on multiple suppliers who obtained heroin and cocaine from Mexican drug cartels. A number of the defendants have violent criminal records and some have ties to criminal street gangs.
The Urbinas allegedly relied on multiple suppliers, including Rigo Bello, 39, Carlos Gonzalez, 35, and Danny Borges, 36, of Camden. They are being sought as fugitives.
The Urbinas also allegedly utilized two supervisors, Edwin Falcon, 29, and Eric Serrano Jr., 29, of Camden. They allegedly managed the street-level narcotics dealers and served as a conduit between the lower-level employees and the leaders. Falcon and Serrano were arrested Nov. 8.
Additionally, a series of "case workers" were responsible for the day-to-day operations of the street-level "trappers" or dealers, who actually conducted the sales of narcotics to customers. The following nine men from Camden, alleged "case workers," have been charged (*indicates the individual remains a fugitive):
- Heriberto Nunez, 23
- Alex Santos, 23
- Shadi Torres, 23
- *Sheron Pulliam, 26
- Anthony Morris, 24
- Pedro Colon, 41
- *Daniel D. Mistretta, 22
- Omar Urbina Jr., 23, the son of alleged leader Omar Urbina,
- Andre Russell, 21
Investigators executed 13 search warrants, seizing more than $218,000 in cash, six guns and more than five ounces of cocaine. In addition, 10 cars and one "party bus" were seized, with additional vehicles still subject to seizure.
The defendants are being held in the Camden County Jail. Bail for each of the Urbina brothers is set at $1 million. Bail for the other defendants is set at $100,000 to $1 million. All 46 men and one woman charged in the investigation are charged with first-degree racketeering, which carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. All were also charged with third-degree conspiracy, and many were charged with second or third-degree drug distribution offenses.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Because they are indictable offenses, the charges will be presented to a grand jury for potential indictment.
The following agencies assisted in making arrests:
- FBI, Cherry Hill and Philadelphia Offices
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration/Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force
- U.S. Marshals Service
- U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives
- New Jersey State Police
- New Jersey State Parole Board
- Camden County Prosecutor’s Office
- Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office
- Cherry Hill Police Department
- Gloucester Township Police Department
- Gloucester City Police Department
- Evesham Township Police Department
The following individuals allegedly are street-level runners/ baggers, trappers (dealers), and lookouts (*indicates the individual remains a fugitive):
- *Isadel Falcon, 27, of Camden.
- Adamm Castelar, 26, of Camden.
- Joseph Torres, 21, of Camden.
- Fuquan Hobgen, 27, of Camden.
- Ulysses Serrano, 25, of Camden.
- Adrian Johnson, 21, of Camden.
- Devon Williams, 25, of Camden.
- Antwan Saulters, 26, of Camden.
- Lonnie Reevey, 24, of Camden.
- Jose Luis Rivera, 39, of Camden.
- Lahquae St. Juste, 20, of Camden.
- Rad Stratton, 19, of Camden.
- Jacob Rodriguez, 19, of Camden.
- *Lamar Soto, 20, of Camden.
- Tyree Rozier, 22, Pennsauken.
- *Sherrod Jones, 40, of Camden.
- Eric Caraballo, 45, of Camden.
- Christopher Anderson, 24, of Camden.
- *William Lincoln, 36, of Sicklerville.
- *Eric Trusty, 20, of Camden.
- *Justin Henry, 26, of Woodbury.
- Daquan Bowman, 22, of Camden.
- Taneal Walker-Combs, 20, of Camden.
- Eduardo Flores, 26, of Camden.
- *Jaymeal Yeldell, 25, of Camden.
- Adrian Torres, 25, of Darby, Pa.
- Jamil Lindsey, 20, of Camden.
- Kevin Mena Carmona, 25, of Camden.
- *Carlos A. Diaz, 40, of Camden
- Juan Garcia, 24, of Camden.
The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.