Jose O. Fortuna, 40, of Camden, was sentenced today to 14 ½ years in prison, including five years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley in Camden. He pleaded guilty on March 22 to first-degree maintaining a heroin production facility, a charge from the indictment in Operation China White, and first-degree distribution of heroin, in connection with Operation 3Ni. He was sentenced to 14 ½ years, including five years of parole ineligibility, on the distribution charge, and a concurrent sentence of 12 years, including 4 ½ years of parole ineligibility, on the production facility charge.
Andrew Lopez, 31, of Camden, was sentenced today to 10 years in state prison, including five years of parole ineligibility, by Judge Kelley. Lopez pleaded guilty on March 22 to a charge of first-degree distribution of heroin in Operation China White.
Deputy Attorneys General Julia S. Glass, Jeffrey Barile and Rachael Weeks prosecuted the defendants and handled the sentencing hearings for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
The joint investigation revealed that Jose Fortuna’s nephew, Wilson Fortuna, 27, of Camden, was a heroin supplier who supplied heroin to dealers in the ring targeted in Operation China White, as well as an alleged heroin dealer arrested in Operation 3Ni. Wilson Fortuna obtained heroin from a heroin mill that Jose Fortuna maintained inside his residence in the 300 block of North 41st Street in Camden.
“These two men were callously profiting from the epidemic of heroin addiction gripping our state and our nation,” said Acting Attorney General Lougy. “By putting major suppliers like these behind bars, where they can no longer sell misery and death into our communities, we strike at one source of this epidemic. We also are aggressively targeting those involved in the diversion of prescription painkillers, which so often are the gateway to opiate addiction.”
“By taking down heroin mills and wholesale dealers, we are constricting the supply of deadly heroin in Camden,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend our partners in the State Police and DEA for their exemplary investigation, which combined undercover drug purchases and surveillance to track the heroin being sold by these dealers.”
“Our detectives and undercover troopers working to take down drug dealers are performing a great service for our state. It’s not something that everyone is cut out for, but I am very proud of their results. Every dealer they put in jail potentially represents fewer lives lost to overdoses, and less violence on New Jersey streets,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge for DEA’s New Jersey Division said, “To be able to dismantle a drug trafficking organization distributing wholesale quantities of heroin is a major victory for not just the citizens of Camden, but for all of southern New Jersey. The DEA will continue to join forces with the Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey State Police to combat these major drug violators.”
Wilson Fortuna pleaded guilty on March 22 to first-degree distribution of heroin, a charge contained in the indictment in Operation China White, and second-degree conspiracy, in connection with Operation 3Ni. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that he be sentenced to 11 years in prison, including more than three years of parole ineligibility, on the distribution charge, and a concurrent sentence of seven years on the conspiracy charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24.
Lopez was charged in connection with two sales of first-degree quantities of heroin to an undercover officer. On July 24, 2013, he sold more than five ounces of heroin to the undercover officer at a location next to Von Neida Park in Camden. On Oct. 10, 2013, Lopez sold nearly nine ounces of heroin to the undercover officer at the same location. The heroin for the second transaction was obtained from Wilson Fortuna immediately prior to the sale. Lopez was arrested after that transaction.
Jose and Wilson Fortuna were arrested in October 2013. Detectives and agents executed search warrants at the homes of both men. At the home of Jose Fortuna, the investigators found a heroin production facility in the basement containing a steel hydraulic press, 12 containers of a dietary supplement used as a cutting agent, scales, tools used for cutting and packaging, a currency counter, and $30,000 in cash. They also found a plastic bag containing three-quarters of a kilo of heroin.
Acting Attorney General Lougy commended the deputy attorneys general for the Division of Criminal Justice, the detectives for the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression South Unit, and the special agents of the DEA who prosecuted the defendants and conducted these operations. The other partners critical to the success of these investigations were the DEA High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Joint Camden Task Force and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.