Home Police, Fire & Courts Brick Resident Among Dozens Charged in $1.9M Marijuana Bust

Brick Resident Among Dozens Charged in $1.9M Marijuana Bust

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Marijuana (Photo: Katheirne Hitt/Flickr)
Marijuana (Photo: Katheirne Hitt/Flickr)

A Brick resident was among dozens charged in a multi-agency operation in which law enforcement seized approximately 21,000 packages of candy infused with suspected THC, 1,100 pounds of suspected marijuana, and over 6,000 flavored THC vape cartridges, all with an estimated value of $1.9 million.

A yearlong investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics and Criminal Enterprise Unit targeting what was described as a “large-scale marijuana and THC distribution network operating throughout Monmouth, Ocean, and Bergen counties,” as well as parts of New York resulted in charges being filed against 24 men and women, including those from Brick and Point Pleasant.

Daniel J. Riley (Photo: MCPO)
Daniel J. Riley (Photo: MCPO)

Daniel J. Riley, 25, of Brick Township, was among those charged. He is facing allegations of second degree conspiracy to distribute marijuana and/or hashish in excess of 25 pounds, first degree possession with intent to distribute marijuana and/or hashish in excess of 25 pounds, first degree maintaining and operating a facility for the production of marijuana, and fourth degree simple possession of marijuana and/or hashish in Excess of 50 grams. The first degree charge carries a sentence between 10 and 20 years in state prison.

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The investigation, dubbed Operation On The Ropes uncovered a plan to secretly convert legitimate candies, including the popular Nerds Rope and Sour Patch candy brands, to an illegal THC-infused product.  THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the substance that creates most of marijuana’s “high.”

The illegal operation utilized a warehouse on Park Avenue in Manalapan Township and a hangar at Monmouth Executive Airport in Wall Township as production and storage facilities. The approximate 21,000 pieces of candy were manufactured with unknown amounts of THC and totals over 100,000 individual doses. The THC products that were processed were then intermingled with THC products that the network operators illegally trafficked into New Jersey from a supplier in California.  The THC products have an estimated street value of nearly $900,000.

The slew of arrests come as New Jersey has decided to place the legalization of recreational marijuana on the November election ballot. Unregulated sales, however, will remain illegal.

Also seized, officials said, were machines and paraphernalia used to repackage and repurpose the legitimate candies as marijuana-related edible products. The investigation did not reveal use of the local airport to transport any of the illegal drugs to other areas inside or outside of New Jersey.

“The packaging on this THC laced ‘candy’ is almost indistinguishable from regular drug store candy,” said Monmouth County Chief of Detectives John G. McCabe. “Your kids may be getting high right before your eyes, if you are not paying close attention. This illegal operation makes juveniles and anyone who consumes these products susceptible to random levels of drug toxicity.”

Seized during the investigation were 1,200 THC-infused Sour Patch Watermelon candy packages labeled, “Stoner Patch” edibles; 6,250 “Baked Burgerz” edibles; 3,111 TCH-infused “Nerd Ropes,” individually repackaged in red, pink, yellow and blue wrappers. Also seized were 1,151 Tic Tac-type containers without labels; numerous boxes and trays of Nerd Ropes in various stages of the infusion process; and 6,542 THC vape cartridges in a variety of 16 different flavors.

A total of $10,151,711 in assets, $1,483,859 in cash, and 21 high-end exotic vehicles, including cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Mercedes Benz, with an estimated total value of approximately $2,783,445, were also seized as part of the criminal investigation.

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The full list of those arrested and charged were:

Dylon J. Addvensky, 27, of Freehold Borough, first degree Leader of a Narcotics Trafficking Network, second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Knowingly Maintaining and Operating a Facility for the Production of Marijuana, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 50 Grams.

Eric L. Karlewicz, a/k/a Anthony Mazza 40, of Colts Neck, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana in Excess of 25 pounds, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana in Excess of 50 grams.

Nicco C. Romanowski, 27, of Freehold Township, second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana in Excess of 25 pounds, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana in Excess of 50 grams.

Anthony Dalessandro, 30, of Los Angeles, California, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Possession of Marijuana and/or Hashish with Intent to Distribute, first degree Maintaining and Operating a Facility for the Production of Marijuana, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 50 Grams. D’Alessandro remains at-large and is considered a fugitive from justice.

Ariel Baez, 45, of Lodi, New Jersey, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana in Excess of 25 pounds, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana in Excess of 50 grams.

Mathew R. Caracappa, 24, of Freehold Township, second degree Conspiracy, first degree Possession of Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Knowingly Maintaining and Operating a Facility for the Production of Marijuana and/or Hashish, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 50 Grams.

Lawrence A. Cella, 28, of Jackson Township, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Hashish, first degree Maintaining and Operating a Facility for the Production of Marijuana and hashish, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and/or Hashish.

Richard C. Chamas, 43, of Jackson Township, is charged with a disorderly persons offense of Obstruction of the lawful arrest of Paul G. Hobbs, who is listed below.

Lee D’Avanzo, 52, of Staten Island, New York, is charged with fourth degree Conspiracy to Possess Marijuana, fourth degree Possession of Marijuana in Excess of 50 grams.

Nicholas A. D’Ambrosio, 28, of Manalapan, third degree Possession of Cocaine and a disorderly persons offenses of Possession of Marijuana Under 50 grams.

Alfonse D’Ambrosio, 26, of Howell Township, is charged with third degree possession of Anabolic Steroids, fourth degree Resisting Arrest, fourth degree Possession of Examestane without a Prescription,

Angelynn J. Fecso, of Colts Neck, second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana in Excess of 25 pounds, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana in Excess of 50 grams.

Matthew V. Filosa, 28, of Freehold Borough, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Maintaining and Operating a Facility for the Production of Marijuana and/or Hashish fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 50 grams.

Paul G. Hobbs, 27, of Jackson Township, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Maintaining and Operating a Facility for the Production of Marijuana and/or Hashish fourth degree Possession of Marijuana in Excess of 50 grams.

Ryan D. Hult, 39, of Riverdale in Morris County, New Jersey, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 50 grams.

Jason M. Lambros, 21, of Point Pleasant Beach, is charged with disorderly persons offenses of Possession of Marijuana Under 50 grams and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Joseph A. Mari, 28, of Voorhees Township in Camden County, New Jersey, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Hashish, second degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Hashish, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and Hashish.

Gianna P. Mazzone, 23, of Egg Harbor Township, is charged with third degree Possession of Cocaine and a disorderly persons offenses of Possession of Marijuana under 50 grams.

John T. Page, 25, of the Mickleton section of Greenwich Township in Gloucester County, New Jersey, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Hashish, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Hashish, first degree Maintaining and Operating a Facility for the Production of Marijuana and hashish, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and Hashish.

Hannah R. Olstein, 25, Freehold Township, is charged with fourth degree Possession of Marijuana Under 50 grams and a disorderly persons offense of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Daniel J. Riley, 25, of Brick Township, second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 25 pounds, first degree Maintaining and Operating a Facility for the Production of Marijuana, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and/or Hashish in Excess of 50 grams

Kevin M. Shields, 31 of Jackson Township, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana and Hashish, first degree Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Hashish, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and Hashish.

Alexa L. Stimpfel, 27, of Freehold Borough, is charged with fourth degree Possession of Marijuana Under 50 grams.

Matthew C. Tracy, 27, of Jackson Township, is charged with fourth degree Conspiracy to Possess Marijuana and Hashish, and fourth degree Possession of Marijuana and Hashish.

Officials also said there is an ongoing investigation into the financial activities of the criminal enterprise. Anyone with information about the activities of any of the defendants listed above or any of the following companies: Empire Pain Center, Empire Power and Gas Holdings, Global Empire International Holdings, Supreme Lead Generations, Platinum Communication Services, Platinum Funding Associates, Jenza Properties, LLC, Dynasty Property Holdings is being urged to contact Captain Maria Reverendo of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, at 1-800-533-7443.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Paul Alexander and Emily Cartmell.