After pleading guilty to charges for possession of heroin with intent to distribute, two men were recently sentenced for their participation in a drug trafficking operation that spanned several counties in New Jersey, including Ocean County.
The men in question, 27-year-old Richard Michilena and 40-year-old Bolivar Delacruz, both of whom are New Jersey residents, initially pleaded guilty to heroin distribution in February. They were charged in 2015 after a large-scale narcotics investigation culminated in 19 arrests by a New Jersey drug task force in Atlantic City. The investigation, conducted over the course of 8 months from Paterson to Atlantic City, revealed that the drug trafficking network was responsible for selling approximately 30,000 doses of heroin every month in Atlantic County and Ocean County.
Officials say the drug distribution operation was also dealing heroin laced with fentanyl, a prescription opioid which has led to thousands of overdoses in New Jersey and across the county. The drug network was also allegedly using juveniles to sell their product and doing drug deals with young children present. Michilena and Delacruz were ultimately arrested with two others following a drug transaction, at which time police confiscated a duffel bag full of heroin and a purse containing $23,885 in cash.
In the most recent development in this case, Michilena and Delacruz were both sentenced to serve 10 years in New Jersey State Prison on Friday, July 21st. Since they pleaded guilty to possession of heroin with intent to distribute charges, the degree of these charges would initially be determined by the amount of heroin associated with the offense. The New Jersey Criminal Code addresses heroin distribution in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 “Manufacturing, distributing or dispensing heroin,” which outlines the grading of these charges based on the measured weight of heroin involved.
Specifically, heroin distribution is a first degree crime if the offense involves 5 ounces of heroin or more. A first degree crime is punishable by a sentence to serve between 10 and 20 years in prison. A second degree charge for heroin distribution or intent to distribute applies in cases involving between 1/2 ounce and 5 ounces and may result in a term of imprisonment from 5 to 10 years. Lastly, selling heroin or possessing heroin with intent to sell is a third degree crime if the heroin amounts to less than 1/2 an ounce. A third degree heroin distribution charge entails a 3 to 5-year prison term; however, there is a presumption of non-incarceration for first-time offenders, which means that a person with no prior criminal record may be considered a viable candidate for a diversionary program such as Pretrial Intervention or Drug Court.
Contact a Toms River NJ Heroin Distribution Lawyer
At William Proetta Criminal Law, our criminal defense attorneys regularly represent clients charged with heroin distribution, intent to distribute heroin, and heroin possession in Ocean County and surrounding Jersey Shore communities. With offices in Toms River, we appear on behalf of those facing drug charges in Jackson, Manchester, Brick, Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, and beyond. If you or someone you love has been charged with a heroin offense, contact us today at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation with an Ocean County heroin defense lawyer.
For additional information related to this case, access the following article: 2 heroin suppliers get 10 years for roles in N.J. drug network