New Jersey

NJ Mom Turns Fugitive, Alleged Ringleader Son Among Dozens Arrested in Drug Network: Prosecutors

Prosecutors dubbed the 16-month investigation "Operation Finished Business"

What to Know

  • Prosecutors in Monmouth County announced the bust of a major fentanyl-laced heroin trafficking network in New Jersey on Monday
  • The alleged ringleader is a 33-year-old Jackson man; his mother, who remains on the run, is among the 31 others charged
  • Anyone with information about those charged or those still at large is asked to call Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-800-533-7443

Authorities say they've broken up a heroin distribution ring allegedly run by a man and his mother that sold as much as $400,000 worth of drugs a month.

Nine people - including alleged ringleader Anthony Distaulo, 33, and his 52-year-old mother Mechelle Distaulo -- are accused of playing lead roles in the ring that they say operated in Monmouth County's Bayshore area, officials said Monday.

Another 23 people are charged with buying drugs from the ring. Four of the nearly three dozen people charged in the case remain at large and are considered fugitives from justice, prosecutors say. That includes the alleged kingpin's mother.

Officials say the ring moved about 20,000 bags of heroin a month; much of the heroin was laced with fentanyl, which is more potent and up to 50 times more deadly. They seized 3,200 bags of heroin and about $12,000 while executing search warrants in Monmouth, Ocean and Essex counties following a 16-month investigation that authorities dubbed "Operation Finished Business."

They also seized eight vehicles, two motorcycles and a trailer all believed to have been involved in the narcotics trafficking. Charges range from conspiracy to distribution of controlled dangerous substances to possession and, in the case of Anthony Distaulo, acting as the leader of a narcotics trafficking network. He was being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution Monday as he awaited a pretrial detention hearing. Attorney information wasn't available. 

"This investigation deals a critical blow to a narcotics trafficking network that has plagued the towns and neighborhoods in the Bayshore region for a long time," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement. "Heroin, and specifically heroin laced with fentanyl, represents an unacceptable threat to lives in this community."

Anyone with information about the individuals charged or the whereabouts of the defendants still at-large should contact Detective Adam Mendes of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-800-533-7443 ext. 4832.

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