April 25, 2017
Contact: Sheriff Armando Fontoura (973) 621-4105
Newark – An alleged mid-level drug distributor and an armed suspect were arrested last night in separate incidents by Essex County sheriff’s officers.
Sheriff Armando Fontoura stated detectives from his department’s Bureau of Narcotics staged a plainclothes surveillance operation near the intersection of South 7th Street and 11th Avenue as part of a series of on-going drug investigations in that area on Monday evening.
“Here, our officers observed West Rodriguez, 40, an alleged member of the Crips street gang, exit his residence, located at 102 South 7th Street,” Sheriff Fontoura said. “Rodriguez is known to law enforcement officers from previous investigations.”
Carrying a plastic bag, Rodriguez entered a 2016 Honda Accord. As the suspect vehicle had illegally tinted windows and Rodriguez was not wearing his seatbelt, the sheriff’s officers immediately conducted a motor vehicle stop.
“As the Honda was pulled over, Rodriguez was observed throwing the plastic bag onto the front passenger seat floorboard,” Fontoura noted. “The contents of the bag, 125 heroin-filled glassine envelops, stamped ‘PANDA’ in black ink, spilled onto the floorboard. The suspect was placed under arrest and he was found to be in possession of $383 in cash.”
Following the arrest, the suspect’s grandmother consented to a search of their apartment.
“A book bag was found in Rodriguez’s bedroom. It was found to contain a fully loaded, .40 caliber, Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun and an additional 1058 similarly marked decks of heroin, packed into bundles of 50, known on the street as ‘bricks’”, the sheriff added.
The street value of the narcotics is $125,000.
Rodriguez was charged with the unlawful possession of a weapon while committing a narcotics crime, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of CDS with intent to distribute, and possession of CDS with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School.
Later on Monday evening, officers from the sheriff’s Patrol Division conducted a motor vehicle stop of a 1998 Lexus on Eagles Parkway as it was driven with illegal blue-tinted headlights.
In questioning, the female driver, her female front seat passenger and the male backseat passenger, the sheriff’s officers detected the odor of burnt marijuana.
With leafy residue on the front of his shirt, the rear seat passenger, Terrell James, 30 of Newark, was asked to step out of the Lexus.
“As James exited the vehicle, our officers detected the barrel of a handgun protruding from under the rear seat,” Sheriff Fontoura said. “As the loaded, .45 caliber, Hi-Point semi-automatic weapon was seized, James began engaged in a violent struggle with our officers. Despite two blasts of oleo resin capsicum (pepper spray), James continued to flail his arms and legs at our officers. He then attempted to run from the scene but was quickly captured and handcuffed. Upon arrest, James was also found to be in possession of one heroin-filled glassine envelop.”
James was charged with the unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of CDS and two counts of resisting arrest by force and by flight.
The other occupants of the Lexus were released.
Rodriguez and James were lodged at the Essex County jail where they await bail hearings on Monday’s charges.