Two dozen people have been arrested in connection with a violent drug distribution network that authorities say spanned four northern New Jersey counties.
Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said the arrests announced late Saturday afternoon were the culmination of an investigation involving multiple law enforcement agencies. It started after a shooting in Morristown last October that left two people wounded.
Bail was set at $1 million each for 32-year-old Linden residents Rashan Caldwell and Jamion Fenner, who authorities say led the ring. Both men are believed to be high-ranking members of the Bloods street gang, and Caldwell is accused of being the gunman in the shooting that launched the investigation.
Several members of Caldwell's family -- including his mother, brother and sister -- were among the 24 people arrested in raids that were mostly conducted early Friday. Authorities said they seized several weapons and motor vehicles while making the arrests, along with 2,000 packets of heroin ready for distribution, one ounce of raw heroin and seven ounces of cocaine.
Authorities were still looking for seven other suspects wanted in connection with the ring, which Bianchi said operated in Essex, Morris, Warren and Union Counties. Bail amounts for the suspects in custody ranged from $10,000 to $200,000, and most of them remained in custody Saturday night.
Bianchi said the lengthy investigation was an example of what can be achieved when law enforcement agencies cooperate over jurisdictional lines.
"The ultimate success of this operation was the result of the significant commitment that so many agencies made to provide us with manpower," he said. "We have once again demonstrated that we are much more successful as a unified front to combat criminal activity versus doing it individually."
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Published at 5:51 PM EDT on Jun 2, 2012 | Updated at 6:17 PM EDT on Jun 2, 2012
Copyright Associated Press