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CAMDEN, N.J. – The New Jersey State Police have arrested Marcos Hernandez, 28, and Efrain Padilla, 27, both of Camden, N.J., for various drug and weapon offenses during an investigation that led to the seizure of $220,000 worth of heroin, cocaine and liquid cocaine, an AR-15 assault rifle and a 9mm ghost gun, both equipped with illegal high-capacity magazines.
“We will continue to collaborate with our partners in Camden and throughout New Jersey to arrest the drug dealers who fuel addiction and violence with their criminal activity and who arm themselves with illegal weapons, like the ghost gun, assault rifle, and large-capacity magazines seized in this case,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “More and more, we are seeing criminals arm themselves with ghost guns, because they are virtually untraceable and can be purchased as kits without background checks. These illegal weapons pose a deadly threat to our residents and police officers, and we won’t tolerate those who bring them into our communities.”
“Our methodology has been effective in targeting these production facilities, shutting them down, and saving lives in the process. By stopping these weapons and lethal narcotics right at the source, we have undoubtedly made our communities safer,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Fortunately, these drugs will never make it into our neighborhoods thanks to the diligent work of the State Police Trafficking South Unit and the Opioid Enforcement Task Force, who work tirelessly to stop the flow of drugs into our communities.”
During a three-month investigation, detectives with the New Jersey State Police Trafficking South Unit and the Opioid Enforcement Task Force (OETF) began investigating the distribution of narcotics in and around the City of Camden. Through various investigative means, detectives determined that Hernandez was operating a narcotics production facility.
On Friday, April 30, 2021, detectives with the Trafficking South Unit, OETF, along with members of the Camden County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT), Camden County Metro Police Department, Voorhees Township Police Department, Pennsauken Police Department, and Winslow Township Police Department conducted searches of residences on Westfield Avenue and Berwick Street, both in Camden City. As a result of the searches, detectives seized one kilogram of heroin valued at $60,000, two kilograms of cocaine valued at $80,000, two kilograms of liquid cocaine valued at $80,000, $32,553 cash, a kilo press, grinders, scales, and packaging materials consistent with heroin and cocaine distribution.
Detectives also recovered an AR-15 .223 assault rifle with a high-capacity magazine and a 9mm ghost gun with a high-capacity magazine. A ghost gun is a firearm that is assembled from various parts that are not imprinted with a serial number and registered with a federally licensed manufacturer, making them difficult for law enforcement to trace.
Marcos Hernandez was arrested at the Westfield Avenue residence and was charged with distribution of CDS, unlawful possession of weapons, conspiracy, and possession of CDS. He was lodged at the Camden County Correctional Facility pending a detention hearing. Efrain Padilla was arrested at the Berwick Street residence and was charged with distribution of CDS and possession of CDS. He was released with a pending court date. The defendants are being prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
To date, the OETF has conducted 183 enforcement operations and seized more than 858,816 individual doses of packaged opioids valued at $4,294,080, more than 85 kilograms of raw heroin valued at $5,100,000, more than 76 kilograms of fentanyl valued at $3,800,000, more than 76,000 fentanyl-based pills valued at $760,000, more than 53 kilograms of cocaine valued at $1,908,000, more than $3,838,152 in U.S. currency, and 173 firearms. The OETF has also disrupted or dismantled 42 fully operational opioid packaging facilities, six fully operational fentanyl pill pressing operations, and arrested 398 suspects during this time.
Charges are mere accusations, and the accused are considered innocent until proven guilty.