TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced that four family members were indicted today on first-degree drug charges for allegedly operating a heroin and cocaine mill in their residence in Elizabeth. They also are charged in connection with opiate pain pills seized at their home.
The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau obtained a 10-count state grand jury indictment charging the following four defendants: Jose Correa, 44; Santa Lantigua, 43, Correa’s wife; Alfred Lantigua de la Cruz, 21, the son of Lantigua and Correa, and Siamel Perez, 25, Santa Lantigua’s brother.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Weapons Trafficking North Unit, which developed information that Correa allegedly was dealing narcotics in the Elizabeth area.
The four defendants were arrested on Feb. 20, 2014, when troopers executed a search warrant at the residence where all of the defendants live in the first block of Butler Street in Elizabeth. The investigating detectives were assisted by the State Police Homeland Security Branch, Troop B Technical Emergency and Mission Specialist Unit and Canine Unit. When troopers first entered the residence, Correa fled to a rear bathroom, where he allegedly flushed heroin down a toilet.
During the search, members of the State Police seized 12 clear plastic bags containing a total of nearly a kilogram of cocaine — approximately 825 grams — from the garage, along with a press, a mask, a blender, four aluminum trays with white powder residue, and two vacuum sealers, all allegedly used for processing narcotics.
Ten clear plastic bags containing approximately 10 ounces of heroin were seized in the master bedroom of Correa and Lantigua, along with 154 oxycodone pills in unlabeled prescription bottles, multiple stamps for marking heroin envelopes, a computer tower connected to several security cameras on the premises, and $14,540 in U.S. currency.
A scale, four coffee grinders, a vacuum sealer, four boxes of glassine envelopes stamped “Frito Lays,” and additional materials for processing and packaging narcotics were found in a storage room.
Detectives seized a thousand-count box of wax envelopes stamped “Execute” in the son’s bedroom, and $5,000 in U.S. currency in Perez’s bedroom. In total, $24,070 in cash was found, and five vehicles were seized from the premises.
Deputy Attorney General Shontae Gray presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Det. Hugo Ribeiro was the lead detective for the New Jersey State Police Weapons Trafficking North Unit.
The indictment charges all four defendants with conspiracy (2nd degree), maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility (1st degree), possession of heroin with intent to distribute (1st degree), possession of cocaine with intent to distribute (1st degree), possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute (2nd degree), possession of a controlled dangerous substance (heroin/cocaine/oxycodone) (3rd degree), possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute in a school zone (3rd degree), money laundering (3rd degree), and possession of drug paraphernalia (4th degree). Correa also is charged with tampering with evidence (4th degree).
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison. The first-degree possession with intent charges carry a fine of up to $500,000, while maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility carries a fine of up to $750,000.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison.
The third-degree possession charge carries a fine of up to $35,000, the third-degree money laundering charge, a fine of up to $75,000, and the third-degree school zone charge, a fine of up to $150,000.
Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Union County, where the defendants will be arraigned at a later date.