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TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a drug dealer from Bergen County was sentenced to state prison today in connection with an investigation by the New Jersey State Police that led to the seizure of $732,124 in cash and over 10 ounces of the designer opioid furanyl fentanyl, an analog of the highly potent and dangerous opioid fentanyl.
Jose Colon-Lora, 35, of Edgewater, N.J., was sentenced to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Christopher R. Kazlau in Bergen County. Colon-Lora pleaded guilty on June 28, 2019 to second-degree possession of furanyl fentanyl with intent to distribute. The state recommended a sentence of seven years in state prison under the plea agreement, but the judge imposed a sentence of five years. Colon-Lora was ordered to forfeit the $732,124 in cash seized during the investigation.
A co-defendant, Jorge Rivera, 29, of Edgewater, previously pleaded guilty to first-degree money laundering and was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.
Deputy Attorney General Amy Sieminski prosecuted the defendants and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The defendants were indicted in January 2017. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Picard presented the indictment to the state grand jury.
Colon-Lora and Rivera were arrested on July 26, 2016 as the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Violent and Organized Crime Control North Bureau, Trafficking North Unit. On that date, detectives executed a search warrant at an apartment shared by Colon-Lora and Rivera on Alexander Way in Edgewater, N.J. With the help of a drug detection K9, troopers allegedly found more than 10 ounces of furanyl fentanyl contained in multiple bags in a closet in the master bedroom. In that closet and a second closet, detectives found $732,124 in U.S. currency in various suitcases and bags, along with equipment and materials for packaging drugs and money.
“We are working aggressively to target the drug traffickers and opioid mills that are profiting from addiction and death,” said Attorney General Grewal. “As evidenced by the drugs and cash seized in this case, these defendants were making huge profits by dealing a highly lethal analog of fentanyl.”
“Each time we lock up a drug supplier and seize a significant quantity of opioids – especially a potent opioid like the one seized in this investigation – we potentially save lives that otherwise would be lost to overdoses,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to collaborate with the New Jersey State Police and our other law enforcement partners to arrest drug dealers, seize their narcotics and profits, and send them to prison.”
“Any designer drug derived from fentanyl is designed to do two things, create an addict and line the pockets of dealers, but tragically and all too often it is fatal for users and folly for sellers—who learn the hard way that drug dealing is never profitable in the end,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to use every available tool and resource at our disposal to combat the opioid epidemic on all fronts, whether it is on the streets making arrests or through education in the classroom.”
Fentanyl is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, and furanyl fentanyl and its other illegal knock-offs are often more potent than regular fentanyl.
New Jersey has seen a deadly surge in deaths resulting from fentanyl or a combination of fentanyl and heroin or other drugs. Fentanyl was linked to 1,429 overdose deaths in New Jersey in 2017, up from 818 deaths in 2016, 417 deaths in 2015, 142 deaths in 2014, and 46 deaths in 2013.
For Colon-Lora: Adamo Ferreira, Esq., Delgado Halkovich LLC, Hackensack, N.J.
For Rivera: Kevin G. Roe, Esq., Hackensack, N.J.