Otis Clyburn, 46, of Paterson, was sentenced to 24 years in state prison, including 12 years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Miguel de la Carrera in Passaic County. Clyburn pleaded guilty on June 19 to first-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute (two counts), second-degree conspiracy and third-degree money laundering.
Deputy Attorney General Amy Sieminski prosecuted Clyburn and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The charges stemmed from a long-term investigation by the New Jersey State Police Street Gangs North Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice. During the investigation, which began in 2012, the State Police seized more than 1,500 bricks of heroin, which equals more than 75,000 doses since each brick contains 50 wax folds of heroin. They also seized over 1,500 vials of powder cocaine, 167 bags of crack cocaine and $438,511 in cash.
Clyburn was indicted in early 2013 on charges including one of the first-degree drug charges. The other charges were filed by accusation and relate primarily to an arrest of Clyburn in February 2014, at which time search warrants were executed and large quantities of heroin were recovered. When arrested, Clyburn had just delivered $113,000 in a duffel bag for a heroin purchase and he had a semi-automatic handgun in his car.
“Clyburn and his associates were distributing large quantities of heroin in Paterson, which is where so many drug users from the northern suburbs of New Jersey come to obtain heroin,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “By putting major drug dealers like Clyburn in prison for lengthy terms, we are reducing the flow of heroin fueling addiction in our communities.”
“We’re aggressively investigating and prosecuting heroin trafficking as well as the diversion and abuse of prescription opiates such as oxycodone,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Given the trend of drug users getting hooked on prescription pain pills and then switching to cheaper and more deadly heroin, we know we need to fight this battle on multiple fronts.”
“Once again, we see the combination of a drug dealer carrying huge sums of cash and a gun, showing clearly the connection between the drug trade and violence in our cities,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “These crimes Clyburn committed, investigated by the State Police and prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice, have earned him every bit of the long jail sentence he now faces.”
The investigation revealed that Clyburn was running a large-scale narcotics distribution network in Paterson involving a number of associates whom he directed. Six alleged associates of Clyburn have been charged in the investigation. The search warrants executed in Paterson in February 2014, after Clyburn’s arrest, included his house, a girlfriend’s house, multiple garage locations he rented for use as stash houses, and several vehicles operated by Clyburn. At the garage locations that were searched, the New Jersey State Police seized more than 1,150 bricks of heroin, a money counter and chests containing bulk currency. In all, the State Police recovered $337,243 as a result of the various searches in Paterson at that time, including the $113,000 in the duffel bag Clyburn delivered.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman commended the detectives from the New Jersey State Police Street Gangs North Unit who conducted the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Philip Mogavero and former Deputy Attorney General Erin Callahan also worked on the case.