New Jersey Drug Bust Results in 30 Arrests, 3 Murder Charges
30 individuals have been arrested in connection with a large-scale drug trafficking ring spanning across much of New Jersey for the past 4 years. Prosecutors from the Atlantic County District Attorney’s Office claim that 27-year-old Steven Martinez and 31-year-old Shiraz Khan are responsible for supplying many dealers with copious amounts of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and prescription drugs. Khan—while having been incarcerated since April 2019 for cocaine charges—allegedly coordinated the operation, as well as facilitated drug smuggling into Atlantic County jail where he was being held.
The 30 alleged members of the trafficking ring will be charged under laws established by federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which expands penalties for criminals and allows individuals to be charged with ordering or assisting in criminal acts as opposed to carrying them out themselves.
9 alleged members of the operation were already incarcerated, while the remaining 21 were caught in Galloway Township, Egg Harbor, and Hamilton Township. 3 individuals will be charged for the 2019 murder of 45-year-old Demond Tally, who was gunned down leaving the home of then-Councilman Marty Small Sr.
Other crimes allegedly perpetuated by the drug trafficking ring are still being investigated.
Drug Misuse in New Jersey
Illicit drug use (and drug trafficking) is nothing new to the Garden State. While doctors in New Jersey write prescriptions for opioids well below the U.S. national average, the rate of fatal overdoses per capita in New Jersey is 31.7—the 10th highest in the country. The New Jersey State and local governments have taken several measures to mitigate the crushing damage inflicted by the opioid epidemic, including:
- Allocating more funding toward prevention and treatment.
- Creating opioid addiction task forces aimed at spreading awareness, education, and providing resources to prevent and treat opioid addiction.
- Passing Good Samaritan Laws, protecting people from seeking help or administering naloxone (an opioid overdose reversal drug) to someone experiencing an opioid overdose.
- Making naloxone available at many pharmacies without a prescription.
While important progress has been made, 2020 and 2021 have come with serious setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to NJCARES, the overdose death rate in 2020 rose to 3046, making it the worst year for the state since this data has been tracked.
A similar trend has been observed nationwide, with 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurring between May 2019 and May 2020—the highest in any 12 month period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also found that 13% of Americans admit to starting or increasing their substance use (both frequency and quantity) during the pandemic.
Many people struggling with addiction need rehabilitation treatment to get and remain sober. If you or a loved one is considering treatment, please call to speak with an admissions navigator.