Major Cocaine Distribution Ring Busted: 24 Arrested; 19 from Monmouth County

A cooperative four-month multi-jurisdictional investigation by authorities at various levels culminated in the dismantling of three alleged cocaine networks responsible for the import of more than three kilograms of cocaine per week into the Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex Counties. Nineteen of those arrested are from Monmouth County, with two facing dealing charges, a release from Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said.

The investigation was conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, United States Drug Enforcement Administration /High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Group 5, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, and New Jersey State Police/Trafficking Central Unit, in concert with many other state, county, and local law enforcement agencies. 

The investigations, dubbed Operation Checkmate, began in July 2021 and wrapped up on Oct. 26, Prosecutor Billhimer said.

On Oct. 26, Operation Checkmate’s end came with the arrest of 24 on various charges involving distribution of controlled dangerous substances. Also, 24 search warrants were executed resulting in the seizure of more than four kilograms of cocaine, over 15 pounds of marijuana, in excess of $650,000 in United States currency, seven firearms (three handguns, three “ghost guns,” and one pistol grip shotgun), ten vehicles, and additional illegal narcotics. 

Through sophisticated surveillance methods and undercover operatives, Operation Checkmate was successful in disrupting and dismantling illicit controlled dangerous substance (CDS) distribution activities in these three counties, as well as New York City, by the following alleged dealers: Luis Feliz, 41, of New York; James Hemenway (also known as “King James”), 43, of Morganville; Dale McCord, 44, of Manalapan; Mark Capichana, 54, of Hazlet; Mark Kelber, 44, of Manalapan; and Andrew Contaldi, 47, of Brick.  

The following people were arrested as a result of the Operation sweep:

• Luis Feliz, 41, of New York, was charged with: possession of cocaine in an amount greater than five ounces with intent to distribute; conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce; and financial facilitation.  Feliz is presently in custody in New York City, pending extradition to New Jersey.

James Hemenway, 43, of Morganville, was charged with: possession of cocaine in an amount greater than five ounces with intent to distribute; conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce; possession of MDMA in an amount greater than one-half ounce with intent to distribute; possession of psilocybin mushrooms with intent to distribute; possession of cocaine; possession of psilocybin mushrooms; two counts of financial facilitation; and possession of drug paraphernalia. Hemenway is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Dale McCord, 44, of Manalapan, was charged with: possession of cocaine in an amount greater than five ounces with intent to distribute; conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce; possession of cocaine; possession of psilocybin mushrooms with intent to distribute; possession of psilocybin mushrooms; possession of marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia; possession of a weapon during controlled dangerous substance activity; certain person not to possess a firearm; three counts of possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine; and two counts of financial facilitation. McCord is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Mark Capichana, 54, of Hazlet, was charged with: possession of cocaine in an amount greater than five ounces with intent to distribute; conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce; maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility; possession of cocaine; and financial facilitation.  Capichana is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Mark Kelber, 44, of Manalapan, was charged with: possession of cocaine in an amount greater than five ounces with intent to distribute; conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce; possession of cocaine; possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; two counts of possession of marijuana; possession of Oxandrolone; possession of Trenbolone; Possession of Drostanalone; possession of Mesternolone; possession of drug paraphernalia; and certain person not to possess a firearm. Kelber is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

• Andrew Contaldi, 47, of Brick Township, was charged with: possession of cocaine in an amount greater than five ounces with intent to distribute; six counts of distribution of cocaine; conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce; possession of cocaine; possession of drug paraphernalia; and financial facilitation.  Contaldi is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Andre Johnson, 45, of Freehold, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce; possession of cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce with intent to distribute; possession of cocaine; maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility; financial facilitation; and witness tampering. Johnson is currently in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

• Brian Contey, 41, of Brick Township, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Contey is currently in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

• Tyrone Finch, 36, of Parlin, charged with: possession of cocaine in an amount greater than five ounces with intent to distribute; conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce; possession of cocaine; possession of drug paraphernalia; financial facilitation; possession of a weapon during controlled dangerous substance activity; certain person not to possess a firearm; and possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine. Finch is currently in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

• Alex Johnson, 47, of Brick Township, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Johnson was charged on a warrant and released pursuant to New Jersey Bail Reform.

George Sirleaf, 47, of Keyport, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Sirleaf was charged on a warrant and released pursuant to New Jersey Bail Reform.

Terrence Brown, 44, of Matawan, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Brown was charged on a warrant and released pursuant to New Jersey Bail Reform.

Irene Patelaros, 46, of Morganville, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Patelaros was charged on a warrant and released pursuant to New Jersey Bail Reform.

John Dolan, 46, of Matawan, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Dolan was charged on a warrant and released pursuant to New Jersey Bail Reform.

Shawn McCord, 25, of Matawan, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. McCord was charged on a warrant and released pursuant to New Jersey Bail Reform.

Daniel Jeandron, 41, of Keyport, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Jeandron was charged on a summons and released pending a future court appearance.

• Alexander Nagy, 42, of Laurence Harbor, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Nagy was charged on a summons and released pending a future court appearance.

John Sozomenou, 46, of Matawan, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce.  Sozomenou was charged on a summons and released pending a future court appearance.

• Joseph Horvath, 33, of Toms River, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Horvath was charged on a summons and released pending a future court appearance.

Christopher Lyons, 42, of Matawan, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Lyons was charged on a summons and released pending a future court appearance.

Robert Dazinski, 59, of Hazlet, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Dazinski was charged on a summons and released pending a future court appearance.

Diana Roman-Porpora, 54, of Howell, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Roman-Porpora was charged on a summons and released pending a future court appearance.

Bobbie Parsells, 42, of Keyport, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce. Parsells was charged on a summons and released pending a future court appearance.

Daniel Votapek, 36, of Point Pleasant, was charged with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine in an amount greater than one-half ounce.Votapek was charged on a summons and released pending a future court appearance.

— Edited press release from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management