Drug Enforcement Administration

New Jersey

Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge

December 19, 2018

Contact: Timothy P. McMahon

Phone Number: (973) 776-1100

Bergen County, New Jersey, man charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin

NEWARK, N.J. – Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, Valerie A. Nickerson, and U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Craig Carpenito, announced a Bergen County, New Jersey, man who was arrested with three kilograms of heroin, a loaded, stolen Glock 22 pistol with a high-capacity magazine, and tens of thousands of dollars in cash in his possession made his initial court appearance today in Newark federal court.

Jose Pena, aka Gucci, 31, of Cliffside Park, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. He appeared in court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion and was detained.

On Dec. 17, 2018, law enforcement observed Pena driving into a public garage near the Botanical Gardens in Bronx, New York, where law enforcement suspected that Pena stored substantial quantities of narcotics in a minivan for distribution.

On Dec. 18, 2018, Pena drove from Cliffside Park to the garage, parked next to the minivan and entered it. When officers approached, they saw a brownish beige powdery substance at various places inside the minivan, including numerous softball-sized bags of suspected heroin. A field test of one of the bags was positive for heroin.

Law enforcement officers found the stolen pistol, loaded with 13 bullets in a large capacity magazine, in a backpack within reach of where Pena had been sitting. They also found tens of thousands of dollars in cash in a secret compartment behind the radio and temperature controls of the minivan.

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

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Valerie A. Nickerson in Newark, as well as the DEA New York Strike Force, with the investigation leading to the charge.

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