Twenty-five people were indicted Tuesday on charges stemming from their alleged roles in a crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and weapons pipeline to several South Jersey counties.
The pipeline ran from the Mexican state of Jalisco to the border town of McAllen, Texas, into Ohio, and then to Camden and Atlantic Counties in New Jersey, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said. The network shipped marijuana in packages through private couriers or the U.S. Postal Service to recipients in Camden, Voorhees, Lindenwold, Hammonton, Waterford and Winslow, officials said.
The defendants are accused of bringing four to six pounds of crystal meth and more than 20 pounds of marijuana into New Jersey each week. Three men - Hector Martinez, 28, of Camden; Joaquin Rangel-Cardenas, 24, of Sicklerville, and Alex Gonzalez, 29, - were indicted as the leaders of the trafficking network, authorities said.
Rangel-Cardenas and another suspect, Luis Lopez, 24, of Pine Hill, also face weapons sales charges.
The crystal meth was manufactured in Mexico, smuggled to Ohio, and driven by members of the network to distributors in Hammonton, authorities said.
Drugs were sold on street corners, in homes, at bars or delivered directly to users, the prosecutor's office said.
Investigators spent almost two years tracking the organization after the U.S. Postal Service intercepted a 60-pound package of marijuana mailed from McAllen to Lindenwold in February 2008, the prosecutor's office said. Authorities dug deeper and discovered that the operation stretched beyond just marijuana.
The Philadelphia-Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, which is made up of federal agencies, four New Jersey prosecutor's offices and local police departments, conducted the investigation.