Operation Wetlands Scores Multi-Agency Victory Over Drugs
FEB 18 - Jersey City, N.J – Twenty-26 people were arrested today as a part of a multi-agency case against a drug trafficking organization that includes some members of the Bloods street gang. Arrest teams began sweeping through the Jersey City area before dawn this morning, executing 18 arrest warrants and 15 search warrants. The total number of people arrested in the case is now up to 46. It was all part of a six-month investigation dubbed Operation Wetlands, in which federal, state, county and local agencies targeted drug distribution activity by one organized group in Jersey City, which included some members of the Sex Money Murder (SMM) set of the Bloods street gang.
Working side by side, New Jersey State Police detectives with the Street Gang North Unit, Jersey City police officers, the Hudson County Prosecutors Office and Federal DEA agents began an investigation that revealed that Dempsey Collins, aka “Da” or “Demps,” 29 of Bayview Avenue in Jersey City, controlled a significant drug distribution network working in the violence-plagued Greenville section of Jersey City. Undercover troopers and local officers made drug purchases and conducted extensive surveillance to discern the scope, membership and hierarchy of the distribution network associated with Dempsey.
Prior to this mornings sweep, 19 people had been arrested as a result of Operation Wetlands and evidence was seized including approximately 32 ounces of PCP, 35 bricks of heroin, a small amount of marijuana and oxycodone, two handguns, and over $7000 in cash. The drugs seized are valued at more than $15,000. Continued intelligence gathering led to today’s arrests and the seizure of further evidence including two more guns, small quantities of drugs and an estimated $50,000 in cash.
“We’ve interrupted some very prolific and violent criminal careers with these arrests, and that puts the odds back in favor of the people in the Greenville community,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
“Street gangs fight each other over their turf, but Operation Wetlands shows how law enforcement at every level worked together to rule the day and arrest those responsible for running a violent criminal enterprise,” added Fuentes.
“We are committed to pursuing targeted investigations of this type,” said Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor. “Through enhanced intelligence gathering, we are identifying the gangs and other criminal networks that are bringing drugs, guns and violence into our neighborhoods. We will continue to join with our law enforcement partners to take down those criminal networks,” Taylor added.
Operation Wetlands partners were all part of the Violent Enterprise Source Targeting (V.E.S.T.) program, begun by the DEA to dismantle criminal organizations in New Jersey.
Gerard P. McAleer, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA New Jersey Division stated, “Under the V.E.S.T. initiative, New Jersey law enforcement agencies are rowing in the same direction. The multi-agency collaborative effort combined joint threat assessments, intelligence, and operations for overall success.”
“This represents yet another cooperative multi-agency effort in Hudson County that resulted in a successful operation,” said Edward J. De Fazio, Hudson County Prosecutor.
“In an urban environment we are cognizant of the collateral damage caused by guns, gangs and drugs within our community. Operation Wetlands stands as an example to the criminal element of our commitment to work with our partners in law enforcement in combating these illegal networks,” said Jersey City Police Chief Thomas Comey.
Dempsey has been charged with Racketeering, Leader of a Narcotics Trafficking Network, conspiracy and two counts of distribution of narcotics. He was arrested this morning at 264 Dwight St. in Jersey City. He will be lodged in Hudson County Jail in lieu of $350,000 full cash bail.
The Division of Criminal Justice will be prosecuting the charges under DAG Erin Callahan. The Hudson County Sheriff’s Office offered valuable assistance with the transport of the prisoners.
Further evidence is being thoroughly reviewed and may result in further charges and additional arrests.
The name Operation’s name of Wetlands was derived from “wet,” which is a slang term for PCP-laced marijuana or tobacco; one of the drugs sold by the network.