Aurelio Gutierrez, 62, of Paterson, was sentenced yesterday, Aug. 17, to 10 years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Adam E. Jacobs in Passaic County. He pleaded guilty on June 20 to a first-degree charge of promoting organized street crime. Gutierrez was arrested on July 11, 2013, as he sold oxycodone pills to an alleged drug dealer. Investigators executed search warrants that day and seized more than 500 oxycodone pills from Gutierrez’s vehicle and home on East 17th Street.
Deputy Attorney General Matthew Lafargue took the guilty plea and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
Gutierrez was arrested along with numerous lower-level members of his ring as a result of “Operation White Silk,” a cooperative investigation conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New Jersey Division. They were assisted by the New Jersey State Police and the Paterson Police Department.
“Gutierrez helped fuel the epidemic of opiate addiction in our communities and callously profited at a devastating expense to others,” said Attorney General Porrino. “By putting him behind bars, we have cut off a major supply line by which these highly addictive pills were reaching the street.”
“These potent opiate pills are a gateway to addiction, heroin use and, far too frequently, death,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to partner across all levels of law enforcement to arrest and aggressively prosecute the criminals who are cashing in on the black market for prescription pain pills,”
Gutierrez distributed more than 1,000 oxycodone pills per week in northern New Jersey. The ring distributed high-dose “blues,” blue pills containing 30 milligrams of oxycodone, and “bananas,” oblong yellow Percocet pills containing 10 milligrams of oxycodone, among other pills. A “blue” typically sells for $10 to $30 on the street, while a “banana” sells for $5 to $8. Gutierrez used numerous “runners” to obtain oxycodone pills and other prescription narcotics such as the anti-anxiety medication Xanax for illegal distribution. The runners used a variety of means to obtain the pills, including buying pills from low-income residents of Paterson who had legitimate prescriptions, obtaining fraudulent prescriptions which they filled at pharmacies, and using their own prescriptions for personal medical conditions. Gutierrez controlled and directed the activities of the runners. He paid the runners enough for them to make a profit, reselling the pills at a substantial markup to other dealers. Dealers from all over northern New Jersey came to Gutierrez to purchase prescription pills, primarily oxycodone.
The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau by Detective Kevin Weinkauff, who was lead detective, former Deputy Attorney General Ray Mateo, Lt. Louis Renshaw, and North Squad Detectives Travis Johnson, Toni Petreski, Miguel Rodriguez and Luis Cruz, under the supervision of Deputy Chief of Detectives Christopher Donohue, Sgt. Ho Chul Shin, former Deputy Chief of Detectives Chuck Foley, Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa-Yfantis, who is Bureau Chief, and Assistant Attorney General Christopher Romanyshyn, DCJ Deputy Director.
The investigation was conducted for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office by Detective Stephan Lantigua, Detective Eric Fajardo, and Detective Johnnie Ramos, under the supervision of the Director of the Bureau of Narcotics Mario Recinos and Detective Sgt. Marco Catania. Attorney General Porrino thanked all of the members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division who conducted the investigation. He also thanked the New Jersey State Police Special Investigations Section and the Paterson Police Department for their valuable assistance in the investigation.