August 27, 2019
Authorities in New Jersey busted a gigantic drug-and-gambling ring, which stretched across five counties, over the weekend, charging 47 suspects and seizing more than $1.1 million in narcotics and weapons.
Thirty-one people were arrested in "Operation Short Storm," when authorities executed search warrants in Essex, Harrison, Kearny, Monmouth, and Ocean counties, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. Roughly 23 kilograms of marijuana, two kilograms of cocaine, two guns, nearly $300,000 in cash, 12 vehicles, jewelry, and assorted pills were recovered during the searches.
Sixteen other suspects remain at large, according to police.
In a 2019 twist, drug dealers involved in the ring allegedly would deliver drugs to buyers at their homes, or sometimes other locations, throughout Newark's Ironbound area. Authorities called it "a retail business on wheels" where buyers could call in orders, and drugs would be delivered promptly.
"These distributors operated in a way that made them feel they were immune from detection," Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens said in a release. "The methods employed were designed to avoid attracting the attention of the law."
Stephens told NJ.com that the ring was active during all hours of the day and night.
The dealers also allegedly ran an after-hours gaming club in Newark, which Newark Public Safety director Anthony Ambrose likened to a casino, just without waitresses. The after-hours club had been raided more than once by the Newark Police Division, according to NJ.com, but continued to operate.
The 47 people charged as part of Operation Short Storm ranged in age for 24 to 70 years old, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.