16 arrested in the Atlantic City, New Jersey area in a count of aggravated drug and gun robbery

ATLANTIC CITY – Several authorities said it took months to dismantle a narcotics network and charge 16 people, 14 of them from New Jersey, with various related crimes.

The Atlantic City Police Department announced the arrests Tuesday in cooperation with the Atlantic County Attorney’s Office, the Resident Office of the Atlantic City Drug Enforcement Administration and the Task Force on High Drug Trafficking Areas in Liberty Mid-Atlantic Atlantic County.

The investigation, authorities said, was focused on Florida Avenue and the Ducktown neighborhood of Atlantic City and surrounding areas.

Brothers Joseph and Justin Suarez, both 37 and from Atlantic City, have been identified as ringleaders who authorities say used secret stashes and street dealers to traffic cocaine, heroin and fentanyl, the particular combined strain of the latter two being known as Dubbed “Bad Bunny” and linked to at least 25 overdoses, including eight fatalities.

Members of the Atlantic City and County SWAT teams, DEA agents from New Jersey and New York, and the New Jersey State Police executed 10 search warrants containing 39,250 individual folds within approximately 785 bricks of the heroin/fentanyl mixture, seven ounces of cocaine, found unspecified amounts of crack cocaine and suspected fentanyl pills, four handguns, including a stolen firearm and a “ghost gun”, ammunition and $86,650 in cash from alleged drug sales.

All but one of those arrested, who include eight other Atlantic City residents in addition to the Suarez brothers, have been taken to the Atlantic County Justice Facility.

The Suarezes were charged respectively with first-degree leader of a drug trafficking network, two counts of first-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute it, three counts of second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, second-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, three Cases of third degree CDS unlawful possession and third degree financial aiding and abetting of criminal activities.

Maurice Braxton, 34, of Atlantic City, Safiya Braxton, 36, of Atlantic City, Howard Cubbag, 57, of Atlantic City, James Dimeo, 59, of Atlantic City, Keith Potter, 60, of Galloway, and Arcadia Ridley, 32, von Absecon were charged with two counts of first-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, three counts of second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, possession of second-degree CDS with intent to distribute, three counts of unlawful possession of CDS, and financial facilitation of third-degree criminal activity .

Yoao Jerez-Tejada, 37, and Jose Perez Paredes, both of Philadelphia, were charged with first-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute, second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS, wrongful possession of third-degree CDS, and third-degree distribution of CDS on or near school grounds.

Terrea Acosta, 55, Brianna Perez, 30, and Lydia Santana, 31, all of Atlantic City, have been charged with three counts of second-degree conspiracy to distribute CDS and third-degree financial aid to criminal activity.

Orlando Peguero-Perez, 36, of West New York, was charged with distributing second-degree CDS with intent to illegally possess and distribute second-degree CDS within 500 feet of school property, third-degree CDS on or near school property and third degree money laundering.

Michael Howell, 35, of Atlantic City, was charged with third-degree marijuana distribution, third-degree marijuana possession with intent to distribute and unlawful fourth-degree marijuana possession.

In addition, Malik Lyons, 22, of Egg Harbor Township has been released on subpoena with a future court date on various charges including possession of second degree CDS with intent to distribute them, wrongful possession of third degree CDS, wrongful possession of first degree one Handgun, possession of a handgun without first obtaining a permit, second-degree possession of a firearm while committing a CDS offense, certain individuals who do not possess a firearm, and fourth-degree possession of stolen property.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Atlantic City Police Department Special Investigations Division at 609-347-5858 or send anonymous tips to tip411 (847411) beginning the text with ACPD.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and host for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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