8-Month Investigation Led to Seizure of AR-15s, Handguns, Heroin & Cocaine
For Immediate Release: October 24, 2022
Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
– Pearl Minato, Director
TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced prison sentences for four men convicted in a narcotics trafficking ring that operated in a neighborhood near I-78 in Newark, where they sold drugs to motorists exiting the highway to make “drive-through” purchases of heroin. The illegal ring was dismantled as a result of an eight-month investigation led by the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) in 2018.
The four men pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme on May 2, 2022. In a hearing before Superior Court Judge Harold W. Fullilove, Jr. in Essex County on September 9, 2022, they were sentenced as follows:
- Dashon Coleman, 40, of Kearny, NJ, was sentenced to an aggregate term of 14 years in state prison, including a 42-month period of parole ineligibility. He pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) with intent to distribute and second-degree unlawful possession of an assault weapon.
- Hashawn Landrum, 42, of Newark, NJ, was sentenced to an aggregate term of 10 years in state prison, including a 42-month period of parole ineligibility. He pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute and second-degree possession of a firearm in the commission of a CDS offense.
- Lamon Thomas, 50, of Newark, NJ, was sentenced to seven years in state prison. He pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute.
- Quameer Elamin, 30, of Newark, NJ, was sentenced to an aggregate term of five years in state prison, including a 42-month period of parole ineligibility. He pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute and second-degree unlawful possession of an assault weapon.
The four men were arrested in December 2018, following the eight-month “Operation Drive-Through” investigation targeting a drug distribution operation based on Ridgewood Avenue in Newark. The investigation also resulted in the seizure of two AR-15 assault rifles, 10 handguns, one tactical shotgun, 7 large capacity ammunition magazines, over 100,000 bags of heroin, more than a kilogram of crack and powder cocaine, and more than $195,000 in cash.
“These defendants operated a large-scale drug trafficking operation in a residential neighborhood and put significant quantities of heroin into our communities,” said Attorney General Platkin. “I commend the detectives and prosecutors who worked together to take down this illegal operation and bring the defendants to justice. Their hard work not only held these men accountable, it made life safer for this Newark community, prevented thousands of potentially fatal doses of heroin from reaching users across the region, and removed dangerous guns from the street.”
“The sheer volume of drugs, guns, and money recovered in this investigation tells us that this was a major drug operation being run by individuals armed and prepared to use violence to defend their business against rivals,” said Director Pearl Minato, of the Division of Criminal Justice. “The prison sentences announced today ensure these men won’t be operating any illicit activities for years to come and sends a strong message that harsh punishment awaits anyone caught trafficking narcotics in our communities.”
On December 12, 2018, detectives from the New Jersey State Police – including the Crime Suppression North Unit, T.E.A.M.S Unit, Gangs and Organized Crime North Unit, Trafficking North Unit, Fugitive Unit, and K-9 Unit – as well as officers of the Newark Police Department and U.S. Marshals Service –executed multiple search warrants in Newark.
Deputy Attorneys General Mohammad Mahmood and Heather Hausleben prosecuted the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cynthia Vazquez and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis.
Attorney General Platkin commended the members of the State Police Crime Suppression North Unit and Newark Police who led the investigation. He also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service and other State Police units that assisted in the arrests and searches.
For Coleman: Thomas Ashley, Esq.
For Landrum: Paul Bini, Esq.
For Thomas: Michael Robbins, Esq.
For Elamin: Andrea West, Esq.