ELIZABETH, NJ — Two men caught with $3 million of heroin and running a distribution ring out of Union County that stretched throughout New Jersey and cities in other states have pleaded guilty in Elizabeth three years after their arrest, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office announced.
William Camino, 38, and Yakin “Yaya” Bryant, 37, both of Elizabeth, were caught with 5.5 kilograms or 2,100 bricks of the drug. Camino and Bryant both admitted to charges of first-degree racketeering and first-degree possession of heroin with the intent to distribute.
The drug bust occurred in late 2014 and was a result of an investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force.
In late 2014, police raided two locations. Nj.com reported earlier that the locations included a house on the 300 block of Richford Terrace in Linden and an office in a commercial building located on the 2100 block of Morris Avenue in Union. The execution of a warrant at the Linden house revealed a heroin packaging operation in the kitchen of the second-floor unit of a two-family home.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Union County Police Department, the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the Union County Emergency Response Team SWAT Unit, and the Elizabeth, Linden and Union police departments all participated in the investigation.
According to prosecutor’s office, Camino and Bryant were arrested along with 13 others.
Besides seizing the heroin, Union County Assistant Prosecutor Jeremiah Lenihan, who prosecuted the case, said authorities also dismantled two “fully functional, high-volume heroin mills illegally operating in Linden and Union Township.”
The prosecutor’s office also noted that additional drugs were seized at two locations in Elizabeth.
“The heroin mills not only supplied wholesale-quantity amounts of narcotics to multiple counties throughout New Jersey, but also to multiple out-of-state urban areas. Also seized as a result of the investigation were a loaded, .40-caliber handgun with hollow-point ammunition, an extended 30-round ammunition magazine, a silencer and a bulletproof vest”, the prosecutor’s office said.
Camino and Bryant are to be sentenced on Oct. 20 before state Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch. Park said the state will recommend that Camino and Bryant will receive 15 and 12 years in state prison, with 85 percent of both terms to be served before the possibility of parole.
Eleven other defendants in this case have already pleaded guilty and have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing.
The case is the latest of a series of heroin distribution convictions in Union County this year. Two occurred the prior week.
Elizabeth residents Alphonse Anderson, 35, and Levar Davis, 37, were found guilty by a jury on Aug. 9 of multiple drug offenses.
The prosecutor’s office said Anderson was found guilty of third-degree possession and third-degree possession with the intent to distribute heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana among other drugs.
They’re scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 27 before Judge Kirsch.
While heroin and opioid addiction remains rampant in New Jersey, a 2015 study by the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s Office shows its prevalence in Union County.
According to a 2015 study by the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s Office, death by overdosing on heroin has increased by 21 percent from the year before. In 2015, there were 1,587 drug-related deaths in New Jersey, 918 of those from heroin. In Union County, there were 44 heroin-related deaths.