Jackson man charged as leader of heroin network in Monmouth County

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A resident of Jackson has been charged with being the leader of a heroin trafficking network that was selling thousands of bags of heroin each month in the Bayshore region of Monmouth County.

On April 15, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced that a 16-month narcotics trafficking investigation had culminated with charges being filed against 32 people.

According to documents filed in the case and information developed during the investigation, Anthony Distaulo, 33, of Jackson, acted as the alleged leader of the heroin trafficking network.

Distaulo has been charged with first degree being the leader of a narcotics trafficking network, second degree conspiracy, first degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) with intent to distribute, first degree distribution of CDS and third degree possession of CDS.

Distaulo is being held at the Monmouth County jail, Freehold Township, awaiting a pretrial detention hearing scheduled for April 22 before state Superior Court Judge James J. McGann, sitting in Freehold.

As the alleged leader of a narcotics trafficking network, Distaulo could face a sentence of life in prison, according to the prosecutor.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said Kate Ellis, 28, of Jackson, Kayleigh Leonard, 30, of Jackson, and Anthony Distaulo’s mother, Mechelle Distaulo, 52, of Brick Township, are three of eight people who allegedly conspired with Distaulo and acted as accomplices in their efforts to distribute narcotics throughout the Bayshore region.

Ellis, Leonard and Mechelle Distaulo have each been charged with second degree conspiracy, first degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, first degree distribution of CDS and third degree possession of CDS.

The investigation was dubbed “Operation Finished Business,” according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation included multiple Monmouth County and local law enforcement agencies.

“Operation Finished Business” resulted in the arrest of 28 of the 32 people charged in connection with the investigation. As of April 15, four individuals remained at large and are considered fugitives from justice, according to Gramiccioni.

The investigation revealed members of the heroin trafficking network sold substantial quantities of fentanyl-laced heroin on a daily basis to members of the public at locations throughout Monmouth County’s Bayshore region – generally defined as Aberdeen Township, Matawan, Keyport, Union Beach, Hazlet, Keansburg, the Port Monmouth, Belford and Leonardo sections of Middletown, Atlantic Highlands and Highlands.

It is estimated the operation pumped out 20,000 bags of heroin monthly that carried a street value of approximately $200,000 to $400,000. The network was run from multiple homes and apartments across Monmouth and Ocean counties, while the heroin supply was routinely replenished with trips to Newark, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Searches pursuant to warrants at locations in Monmouth, Ocean and Essex counties resulted in the seizure of 3,200 bags of heroin, approximately $12,000 cash, eight vehicles, two motorcycles and one trailer all believed to have been used in connection with the illegal sale of narcotics, according to the prosecutor.

The investigation also led to charges being filed against 23 people who were purchasing narcotics from one or more of the distributors of the heroin trafficking network.

The investigation into the narcotics trafficking network remains active and ongoing. Gramiccioni credited the Jackson Police Department for its assistance in the investigation.