Multi-Agency Sting Nets "4" Dozen City Leads Pursuit of Drug Dealers and Violent Offenders V.E.S.T. Debuts
APR 22 -- (JERSEY CITY) - Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy and a host of local, county, state and federal law enforcement representatives announced the results of last weekend’s joint public safety operation that led to 50 arrests of suspects on weapons, narcotics, parole violation and attempted murder charges.
OPERATION V.E.S.T. , or Violent Enterprise Source Targeting, culminated without a hitch after six heavily-armed squads comprised of officers and investigators from 12 different agencies and led by the JCPD, swarmed various target zones in the city’s Greenville and Lafayette sections of the city. The ground operation, under the command of Jersey City Police Chief Tom Comey, had overhead aerial surveillance support from a State Police Chopper.
The dramatic sting ended in the early-morning hours Saturday and led to 26 arrests with the seizure of a loaded 357 Magnum handgun, and caches of cocaine and heroin. It, which had five earlier arrests during the “recon” phase weeks ago, follows the first phase of V.E.S.T. from two days earlier where Hudson County Prosecutor Edward J. De Fazio spearheaded a felon/arrest warrant strike that led to 19 other arrests on various charges. In all 50 arrests were made in V.E.S.T.
V.E.S.T . is described as “an innovative, multi-agency collaborative effort to disrupt and dismantle violent criminal organizations in New Jersey…. combining the talents and resources of local, county, state and federal criminal justice entities to share intelligence, target the most violent offenders, conduct sustained enforcement operations, and coordinate prosecutions.”
“By combining the efforts of law enforcement on all levels, we combine our strengths and knowledge of criminal enterprises. This is a great recipe for success in taking our streets back,” said Mayor Healy from the Operations Command Center Friday night. “The fact that we have federal, state and county law enforcement participating in this operation is indicative of our commitment to end illegal drug in our city, and the street violence that is linked with that activity.”
Weekend operations began shortly before 8 p.m. when members from Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, State Police, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Division of Criminal Justice, State Parole Office and the JCPD met on the outskirts of town to plan their strategy. The US Attorney’s Office and the State Parole Office took part in the operation’s planning as well.
Once “Air 8” was up in the sky, the units spread out and closed in on their respective targets, officials said. Throughout the evening, where surveillances led to street level drug arrests or the serving of warrants on wanted suspects, there was little resistance shown due to the impressive force of law enforcement.
“The years of experience of the officers involved and the willingness of agencies to share information and expertise led to this initiative being so successful,” said Jersey City Police Director Sam Jefferson.
According to Comey, plans for V.E.S.T. began in December following a string of street shootings between rivals seeking to control open-air drug markets in the Greenville District. The operation also comes just days after the city held its first Ceasefire Community meetings, where volunteers from the community will form a coalition and act as emissaries between the police the community on policing and public safety issues.
“It has to stop. It will stop. And I’m going to make sure it does,” Comey said. “We see it everyday how these drug dealers adapts to be more successful at what they do. Well, we’ll adapt as well and be more efficient in the process. “I will not stop until all our residents feel safe, albeit one call at a time or one block at a time.”