A Lakewood man who authorities accused of running a large scale narcotics distribution network was convicted of numerous charges by an Ocean County jury Thursday. He is still at large, however, and considered a fugitive.
Daryel Rawls, 36, of Lakewood was convicted on the charges of 1st Degree Leader of a Narcotics Trafficking Network (which carries a life prison term), 2nd Degree Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin, 2nd Degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin, and 2nd Degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, according to Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutors Office.
The guilty verdict stems from a 2010 wiretap case dubbed operation “Baked Zito”, in which Rawls was the target of the investigation. The investigation spanned multiple counties, including Ocean, Monmouth and Union. There were 13 defendants charged in the investigation. During the approximately month long Wiretap, Rawls was captured managing and organizing his heroin distribution ring. He was ultimately arrested on October 17, 2010, where he was found to have over 20 bricks (1000 bags) of heroin and 26 grams of powder cocaine. During the course of the investigation, thousands of drug-related conversations were intercepted.
During the course of the trial the State called several co-defendants to testify against Rawls, as well as, OCPO Special Operations Group Det. Anthony Sgro who was the Wiretap Affiant. Testimony was also presented by OCPO Special Operations Group Dets. Ken Hess, Casey Long, and James Kingston; Joanne Maffei of the Ocean County Sherriff’s Department, CIU; Det. Thomas Kulpinski of the New Jersey State Police Electronic Surveillance Unit; and Trooper Jeffrey Greco of the New Jersey State Police.
The trial began on February 28, 2017, but the case was brought to the Supreme Court on issues of interception of marital communications between Yolanda Terry and Tern Savoy which took place during the course of the investigation, hence the reason for the delay in the trial from 2010. OCPO successfully won that appeal allowing the communications to be admissible in trial. The jury’s verdict was handed down yesterday (3/22) afternoon. The case was tried by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco and Assistant Prosecutor Robert Cassidy. The defendant, who is a fugitive from justice, was represented by Keith Reid, Esq. The Ocean County Prosecutors Office is working closely with the US Marshal Service to locate Rawls. Anyone with information on his whereabouts should contact OCPO at 732 929-2027.