Hopewell, Lawrence and Princeton police assist in major drug raid

A six-month-long investigation of major narcotics distributors in Mercer County has resulted in the arrest of six people and the seizure of 650 grams of cocaine, almost two kilograms of raw heroin, a kilogram of fentanyl, $75,000 in cash and four vehicles, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri.

Onofri assigned the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Investigations Unit and the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force – which included police officers from the Hopewell, Lawrence and Princeton police departments – to seek out the source of heroin and fentanyl.

The Hopewell, Lawrence and Princeton police officers were full-time narcotics detectives assigned to the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force. They performed surveillance, executed search warrants and searched locations for narcotics.

The first suspects to be arrested were Javone Nesmith and his brother, Breyon Newkirk, who were operating a heroin mill in an apartment on W. State Street in Trenton that belonged to Ashley Lopez. All were charged with multiple drug offenses, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

A search of the apartment, executed with search warrants on May 9, turned up a fully operational heroin mill with grinders, cutting agents, glassine bags for packaging, stamp pads and stampers – along with 600 grams of cocaine, raw heroin, bricks of heroin, about a half-pound of marijuana and nearly $25,000 in cash, the Prosecutor’s Office reported.

The investigation led police to another network of alleged drug dealers – Kenneth Figueroa and Joseph Lopez (unrelated to Ashley Lopez). Police took Figueroa into custody during a May 21 narcotics transaction, but Lopez fled – but not without first ramming a police patrol car.

Lopez tossed a backpack out of the car as he fled, which was recovered by police. It contained 5,600 bags of heroin ready for distribution, and about 30 grams of raw heroin. He was taken into custody a few days later.

When police served search warrants at an apartment on Annabelle Avenue in Hamilton Township, they discovered another heroin mill – complete with grinders, cutting agents, glassine bags for packaging, stamp pads and stampers, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

Police seized more than 1,000 grams of raw heroin and nearly 1,000 grams of fentanyl, plus $50,000 in cash in the Hamilton Township apartment, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Figueroa, Lopez and Terry Robinson, who was in the apartment when police raided it, were charged with multiple drug offenses. Lopez was also charged with aggravated assault on police, resisting arrest and eluding police.

The street value of the seized drugs in the Trenton and Hamilton Township apartments totaled $260,000. The heroin was valued at $200,000, the cocaine was valued at $50,000 and the fentanyl was worth $10,000, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Four vehicles, several flat screen televisions, computers and studio recording equipment related to the investigation also were seized. About 50 bank accounts have been frozen, and are still under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Economic Crime Unit.

Onofri, the Mercer County prosecutor, praised his office’s Special Investigations Unit and the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force for their roles in the “massive investigative undertaking” that dismantled two heroin mills and two separate drug trafficking organizations.

“The success of this case speaks volumes about the professionalism, dedication and determination of all officers involved,” Onofri said.

“It never would have been possible without the cooperation and collaboration of our many law enforcement partners,” Onofri said of the 14 agencies that participated in Operation Capital Co-Op.