Six handguns, 800 rounds of ammunition, and six large-capacity magazines seized in “Operation Park and Pennington”
PATERSON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of 16 alleged drug dealers linked to the “400 Block” set who allegedly armed themselves with guns and illegal large-capacity magazines to defend their open-air drug markets from rival gangs.
The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment on Thursday, Oct. 28, charging alleged members and associates of the “400 Block” set. Fifteen are charged with first-degree racketeering.
The charges stem from “Operation Park and Pennington,” an eight-month investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau and the Paterson Police Department Narcotics Unit which initially led to arrests and charges against 15 of the defendants in July 2021. During the investigation, six handguns were seized—including two “community guns” shared by set members—along with nearly 800 rounds of ammunition and six large-capacity magazines, including a 50-round drum-type magazine and three 30-round magazines.
“Indictments like this are one part of our comprehensive strategy to combat gun violence,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “We are committed to keeping New Jerseyans safe by prosecuting criminal organizations who fuel gun violence in Paterson and other communities across the state.”
“Let this indictment show that if you fuel gun violence anywhere in New Jersey, you will be held accountable,” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This investigation and indictment show that we in law enforcement are better when we combine our efforts and collaborate to target gangs, guns, and drugs that put communities at risk.”
Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said: “We appreciate our strong partnership in support of our common goal of dismantling this criminal enterprise, which will have a far-reaching impact in making a safer Paterson.”
Eric Polanco, 27, of Paterson, N.J. allegedly ran the drug set, and his closest associate, Joseph Landrau, 26, of Paterson, N.J. allegedly acted as the set’s “street boss.” Roberto Santiago, 60, of Paterson, N.J. allegedly was a cocaine supplier for the set. In addition to racketeering, those men are charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime, distribution charges, and face weapons charges related to the guns and large-capacity magazines that were seized.
Because of the large territory they controlled—which extended from Market Street to Park Avenue between Rosa Parks Boulevard and Madison Avenue—the 400 Block set allegedly was involved in “gang wars” with rival drug sets. On June 20, 2021, Landrau was shot four times and severely wounded in a shooting believed to involve a rival gang. Eric Polanco and Landrau face a second-degree gun conspiracy charge in connection with another community handgun that Landrau allegedly carried to protect himself after he was shot on June 20.
Two other defendants, Jussy Geraldino, 23, of Paterson, N.J. and Kreemlin Alcantara, 22, of Paterson, N.J. were fired upon but not hit on May 24, 2021.
Gregory Polanco, 28, of Haledon, N.J., Eric Polanco’s brother, faces second-degree charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose related to a “community” handgun he allegedly threw in a trash can when he believed police were following him. He also faces a second-degree charge of possession of a weapon as a convicted felon.
Seven search warrants were executed on July 15. Four guns, including one community gun, a 50-round drum magazine, and a 30-round magazine were seized at a residence linked to Eric Polanco, and two 30-round magazines were seized at a second residence linked to him. A handgun with a large-capacity magazine was seized at a residence linked to Landrau, and a handgun with a large-capacity magazine was seized at a residence linked to Roberto “Goofy” Santiago. Those three men are charged with second-degree possession of a weapon as a convicted felon and possession of illegal large-capacity magazines.
During the course of the investigation and execution of search warrants, detectives seized 40 single-dose wax folds of heroin, over 5 ounces of powder cocaine, most of it packaged in single-dose bags for sale, 40 vials/bags of crack cocaine, 60 oxycodone pills, 22 Percocet pills, and 10 Xanax pills.
The following 15 defendants are charged with first-degree racketeering and second-degree conspiracy to distribute narcotics, including heroin, cocaine, opioid pills, and other drugs:
- Eric Polanco, 27, of Paterson, N.J.
- Joseph Landrau, 26, of Paterson, N.J.
- Roberto Santiago, 60, of Paterson, N.J.
- Jussy Geraldino, 23, of Paterson, N.J.
- Kreemlin Alcantara, 22, of Paterson, N.J.
- James Artuyo, 40 of Paterson, N.J.
- Samuel Miranda, 26, of Paterson, N.J.
- Arlington Santos-Medina, 24, of Paterson, N.J.
- Adrian Eyzaguirre, 31, of Clifton, N.J.
- Gregory Polanco, 28, of Haledon, N.J.
- Avi Munoz, 24, of Paterson, N.J.
- Elvin Munoz, 25, of Paterson, N.J.
- Hipolito Guzman, 25, of Paterson, N.J.
- Mike Martinez, 30, of Clifton, N.J.
- Robert Santiago, 24, of Paterson, N.J.
Most defendants face additional second- or third-degree drug charges. A sixteenth defendant, Yahaira Mangual, 43, of Paterson, N.J., is not charged with racketeering; she faces conspiracy, and drug possession charges.
The indictment is posted online here.
Deputy Attorney General Heather Hausleben is lead prosecutor for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cynthia Vazquez, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.
Detective Russell Kingsland was lead detective for the Division of Criminal Justice, under the supervision of Lt. PJ Sole, former Deputy Chief of Detectives Brian Bruton, and Chief of Detectives Weldon Powell.
The Division of Criminal Justice conducted the investigation in partnership with the Paterson Police Department Narcotics Unit, under the leadership of Captain Bert Ribiero, Chief Ibrahim Baycora, and Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale.
The New Jersey State Police Intelligence Section assisted in the investigation.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. The charge of first-degree racketeering carries a period of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed and an enhanced fine of up to $500,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The second-degree charge of possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison without possibility of parole. The third-degree drug charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $75,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
This investigation is another step towards reducing gun violence in New Jersey, one of Acting Attorney General Bruck’s key priority areas. In addition to long-term enforcement actions, the Attorney General’s Office and local, state, and federal law enforcement partners are establishing a statewide gun violence task force, holding a series of gun buyback programs around the state this summer, as well as performing targeted sweeps of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants for violent offenses, as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat gun violence.
For Joseph Landrau: Paul Uhlik, Esq.
For Eric Polanco: Kevin Purvin, Esq.
For Roberto Santiago: Frank Sciro, Esq.
For Jussy Geraldino: Paul Condon, Esq.
For James Artuyo: Thomas McQuillian, Esq.
For: Samuel Miranda: Charles Festa, Esq.
For Avi Munoz: John Somohano, Esq.
For Elvin Munoz: Gregory Aprile, Esq.
For Hipolito Guzman: Robert Gallucio, Esq.
For Arlington Santos-Media: Gracia Montilus, Esq.
For Mike Martinez: Omid Irani
For Adrian Eyzaguirre: Alex Cirocco, Esq.
For Gregory Polanco: Perry Primavera, Esq.
For Kreemlin Alcantara: Thomas Cataldo, Esq.
For Robert Santiago: Unknown
For Yahaira Mangual: Unknown