The March seizure represents the largest seizure of fentanyl by law enforcement in New Jersey history. Fentanyl is one of the deadliest opioids, with a potency that is 50 times greater than heroin. The 14 kilograms of fentanyl seized could easily have yielded over five million lethal doses of fentanyl, since a dose as small as two to three milligrams can be fatal.
The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau today obtained a state grand jury indictment charging Yahmire Boardley, 23, of Camden, N.J., with second-degree possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute and third-degree possession of fentanyl. Boardley was arrested in March in a cooperative investigation by the New Jersey State Police Trafficking South Unit and ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Cherry Hill Office.
The investigation revealed that packages containing fentanyl were being shipped into the U.S. from China to addresses in Camden. On March 16, multiple search warrants were executed by State Police detectives from the Trafficking South, Hazmat, K-9, Crime Suppression South, and T.E.A.M.S Units, along with federal agents from HSI, U.S. DEA Camden HIDTA Task Force and DEA Camden Resident Office, and officers from the Camden County Police Department. The investigators seized a total of 14 kilograms of fentanyl from multiple locations. They arrested Boardley at his Camden residence.
While it has been spotlighted for killing Prince and other celebrities, fentanyl also is responsible for a growing death toll in New Jersey, where there were 417 overdose deaths from fentanyl in 2015, and 394 overdose deaths from fentanyl and fentanyl analogs in just the first six months of 2016. Fentanyl is commonly mixed with heroin or cocaine for sale on the street, or is sold in powder compounds or counterfeit pills disguised as heroin, oxycodone or Xanax. Given the tiny size of a lethal dose, drug users are dying because dealers are careless about how much fentanyl they put in such mixes and pills.
“These 14 kilos of fentanyl could have yielded upward of five million lethal doses, enough to kill more than half the population of the state of New Jersey,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Given the deadly and devious ways dealers profit from this super-potent opioid, there’s no telling the many lives that were actually saved by this seizure. I commend the State Police and HSI for taking this fentanyl off the street and away from countless users who might otherwise have become the next victims of the tragic opiate epidemic gripping our state and nation.”
“Our ongoing interdiction of major drug traffickers is just one aspect of our multi-faceted fight against opiate addiction. Another area of focus includes a new strike team in my office that has criminally charged six doctors with indiscriminately prescribing opioid pain pills for profit,” Attorney General Porrino added.
“We know that even minute quantities of fentanyl can be lethal and, in this case, we seized bricks weighing over 30 pounds,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “The unprecedented size of this shipment of a deadly opioid speaks volumes about the scope of the addiction and overdose epidemic, which we will continue to attack on all fronts.”
“By removing more than five million potentially lethal doses of fentanyl from the streets, we not only saved the lives of users, but we may very well have saved the life of a police officer, first responder, or police K-9 who may have unintentionally come into contact with this lethal narcotic,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The troopers of our Trafficking South Unit and investigators from our partnering agencies work tirelessly, often unseen and off of the grid, to protect our communities, and this seizure is but one example of their great work.”
“Synthetic drugs like Fentanyl pose a significant health risk to those who use and abuse them. Homeland Security Investigations and our law enforcement partners will continue to use all resources at our disposal to detect and prevent the importation and distribution of dangerous chemicals and narcotics that continue to ravage our communities,” said Debra Parker, acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI Newark. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to purge the streets of dangerous criminals who import and distribute narcotics.”
Fentanyl is so potent that medics and police across the U.S. have been sickened by coming into contact with it while responding to overdoses or making arrests. In this case, the State Police Hazardous Materials Response Unit assisted with the operation to address the concern about collateral exposure.
In addition to fentanyl, seven fentanyl knock-offs have been sold on the street in New Jersey, usually disguised as less-powerful drugs like heroin or oxycodone, triggering overdose deaths. The Attorney General’s Office issued an emergency order last year adding those fentanyl knockoffs to the list of drugs subject to the strictest level of state control.
Deputy Attorney General Katherine Morris presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Erik Daab and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis.
Detective Garrett Cullen was the case agent for the investigation for the State Police Intelligence Section, Violent & Organized Crime Control Bureau South, Trafficking South Unit. Attorney General Porrino commended all of the detectives and agents who participated in the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Trafficking South Unit and ICE Homeland Security Investigations Cherry Hill, and all of the other troopers, agents and officers who assisted in executing search warrants for the New Jersey State Police, DEA, DEA Camden HIDTA Task Force, and Camden County Police Department.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Camden County, where Boardley will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.
Michael Pinsky, Esq., Law Offices of M.W. Pinsky, Westmont, N.J.
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