Federal authorities say they have dismantled a heroin trafficking ring that flooded the streets of Atlantic City and surrounding towns with the drug, often with deadly results.
Twenty-two people were charged in federal indictments for their roles as members, associates, and suppliers of the organization, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Thursday. Nineteen were arrested Thursday, one was in custody on previous state charges, and two were not yet in custody, authorities said.
“This is a great day for Atlantic City and a great day for Atlantic County,” said Atlantic City Police Chief Henry White Jr.. “The dismantling of an organization that has brought sorrow and anguish to so many families through the distribution of deadly narcotics is a win for the community."
Authorities identified the leader as Khalif Toombs, 29, a former basketball player at Atlantic City High School who played point guard for four seasons at South Carolina State. A wiretap revealed that between April 2017 and June 2019, Toombs operated a “massive drug distribution ring,” using stash houses throughout Atlantic City and numerous drug couriers to redistribute the heroin, authorities said.
“Toombs and his associates coordinated their efforts through the use of phone calls, text messages, and social media,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Authorities said Toombs obtained his heroin from a supplier in Paterson, N.J. The ring trafficked in multiple “stamps,” or brands of heroin, authorities said, including, “AK-47,” “Apple,” “Fortnite,” “Rolex,” “Frank Lucas,” “Bentley,” “Pandora,” and “9½.”
Between Jan. 1, 2017, and June 21, 2019, drugs with these stamps accounted for 48 deaths and 84 nonfatal overdoses in New Jersey, according to the State Police Office of Drug Monitoring and Analysis, authorities said.
The count of conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin, with which each defendant is charged, is punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.
Those arrested Thursday were scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio in federal court in Camden.
“The defendants charged today have been flooding the streets of Atlantic City and surrounding towns with heroin, often with tragic results,” Carpenito said in a statement.
This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
Charged Thursday were: Toombs, 29, of Pleasantville, N.J., Wilbert Toombs, 63, of Atlantic City; Blaine Dorsey, 54, of Atlantic City, still at large; Dean Johnson, 39, of Atlantic City; Mayda Hernandez, 50, of Atlantic City; Joseph Aversa, 37, of Ventnor, N.J.; David Ramirez, 23, of Mays Landing, N.J.; James Blackwell, 54, of Atlantic City; Khalif Davis, 33, of Mays Landing; Wayne Burnside, 28, of Atlantic City; Jeremy Carll, 47, of Mays Landing; Sara Taliaferro, 26, of Brigantine, N.J.; Philip Surace, 32, of Atlantic City; Valarie Lamar, 59, of Atlantic City; Karon Carey, 35, of Atlantic City; Thomas Randall, 25, of Mays Landing, still at large; Nasir Brown, 26, of Somers Point, N.J.; Tieyesha Tucker, 26, of Atlantic City; Jamal Marshall, 32, of Atlantic City; Quadir Stanley, 30, of Atlantic City, in state custody; Tyjuan Demarest, 39, of Elmwood Park, N.J.; and Terryn Kelsey, 39, of Atlantic City.