Four Atlantic County residents were arrested in a large-scale seizure of drugs and other contraband in Stafford Township last week.
The arrests and seizure were the culmination of a seven-month investigation, labeled “Beetlejuice,” into drugs that had been connected to dozens of overdoses in the area, according to a Stafford Township Police Department post on Facebook.
New Jersey State Police and the Stafford Township Drug Enforcement Unit carried out the search, seizure and arrests Oct. 18 at about 5:30 a.m. Nine search warrants were obtained and executed during the investigation, targeting residences, storage facilities and vehicles. The news release said unspecified “advanced techniques” were used during the investigation.
Stafford police said they found 13,000 wax paper folds of heroin and fentanyl; 100 grams of cocaine and 71.3 grams of crack cocaine; 24.3 grams of methamphetamine; and narcotics packaging material. Police said the searches also yielded four handguns; one Bushmaster .233 AR-15 rifle; ammunition and magazines; and a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver that had been reported stolen in Galloway Township. They also seized a 2015 Grand Jeep Cherokee and $14,205 cash in the search.
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Kai Sylvester, a 27-year-old man from Somers Point, is alleged to be “the main distributor” of the drugs and was among those arrested Oct. 18. Three Atlantic City residents — Javon Brooks, 39; Leland Loftin, 49; and Abdul Shakur Hopewell, 28 — are alleged to have been Sylvester’s accomplices.
The investigation began in April after Stafford law enforcement allegedly found wax folds stamped “Beetlejuice” from the scenes of several heroin and fentanyl overdoses. The pattern prompted the State Police’s Crime Suppression South Unit in Atlantic City to join the investigation of the alleged regional drug ring.
Other agencies involved in the investigation included the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, Atlantic and Ocean County SWAT, Barnegat Township Crime Reduction Unit and the Ocean County Narcotics Strike Force, as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations.
Police allege the source of the Beetlejuice heroin and fentanyl was related to 39 overdoses, including 22 that were lethal in Stafford Township and in unspecified locations in Atlantic County.
Brooks, Hopewell and Sylvester were each charged with various drug-distribution, weapons and organized-crime offenses and taken to the Atlantic County Jail. Loftin was charged with a third-degree drug offense and released on criminal compliant summonses pending a future date to appear in Atlantic County Superior Court.
The police’s Facebook post stressed that there is a presumption of innocence due to the accused.
Contact Chris Doyle