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Essex County man charged with heroin trafficking conspiracy in Newark, New Jersey

(NEWARK, N.J.) – Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, and Craig Carpenito, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, announced that federal law enforcement authorities today took custody of the last of seven members of a drug trafficking organization that allegedly distributed over a kilogram of heroin and other narcotics in Newark and the surrounding areas.

Carlos Velasquez, a/k/a “Birdie,” 39, of Newark, is charged by complaint with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Velasquez, who was in state custody on unrelated charges, appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court and was detained.

From September 2016 through June 2017, Velasquez and others engaged in a heroin distribution conspiracy that operated in and around Newark.

Through the authorized interception of telephone calls and text messages, controlled purchases of heroin, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative means, law enforcement officers learned that Ahmad Johnson, a/k/a “OC,” 38, of Newark, was a leader of the conspiracy and was responsible for obtaining wholesale amounts of narcotics, including heroin and cocaine, and processing and packaging the narcotics for sale in and around Newark. Velasquez was an alleged heroin and cocaine dealer who got his narcotics from Johnson.

At times, after the narcotics were processed and packaged for sale, Johnson found users to “test” the narcotics to evaluate the quality, potency, and danger for broader distribution. After the narcotics were tested, members of drug trafficking organization sold the narcotics to other distributors and users in and around Newark.

During the takedown, law enforcement officers conducted a series of search warrants and found over a kilogram of heroin, over 200 grams of crack cocaine, and over 150 grams of fentanyl.

The conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine.

The complaint charges six other defendants with conspiracy to distribute heroin. Johnson, Sacha Negron, 33, and Keith Henderson, 46, all of Newark, were arrested in June 2017. Cory Canzater, 45, and Willie McPhatter, 46, both of Newark, were arrested in September 2017. Willie McPhatter’s brother, Maurice McPhatter, 45, of Newark, was arrested Feb. 8, 2018. Negron, Henderson, Canzater, and Willie McPhatter are out on bail. Johnson and Henderson remain in custody.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Valerie A. Nickerson in Newark.


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