Little Egg Harbor Police Assist in Takedown of Drug Dealers in Township

May 16, 2018

On Monday, April 30, Little Egg Harbor Police Department officers executed a traffic stop on Route 539 near the George J. Mitchell School and arrested the driver on outstanding warrants. After a consensual search of the vehicle, police found approximately 1 kilogram of pure fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug, worth approximately $5 million in street value.

They arrested the driver, Arturo Galindo Gil, 36, and his passenger, Gonzalo Ayona Avila, 41. This stop was part of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cherry Hill Office; the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office; the Atlantic City Task Force, of which LEH PD is a member agency; and the N.J. State Police patrol and investigative divisions.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, during a law enforcement investigation of a drug trafficking organization operating in and around Ocean County, law enforcement officers learned that an individual, later identified as Arturo Galindo Gil, was known to distribute large quantities of controlled substances, including fentanyl. According to the attorney general’s report: On April 30, law enforcement officers learned that Gil was allegedly scheduled to be in Ocean County that day and in possession of a large quantity of fentanyl for distribution. Law enforcement officers identified Gil and another individual, later identified as Avila, driving around Little Egg Harbor Township. Law enforcement initiated surveillance of the vehicle, and officers with the Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department eventually initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle. They requested consent to search the vehicle, and Gil provided signed consent. Law enforcement officers discovered approximately one kilogram of a tightly packaged substance believed to be fentanyl in the back seat of the vehicle. Law enforcement field-tested a sample of the substance, and it tested positive for fentanyl.

The fentanyl distribution conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life imprisonment, and a $10 million fine.

Little Egg Harbor Police Chief Richard Buzby praised the efforts of his officers in the arrests. In an open letter to the residents of Little Egg Harbor posted on the PBA website, he said, “It represents what we will call another stellar example of fantastic interagency cooperation and in which, and on behalf of our community, we are very grateful to be a part. Utilizing combined drug enforcement strategies, including this extensive networking with other local, county, state and Federal resources our officers have been able to consistently smash these would be drug enterprises before their efforts could take hold in this community.”

He added a warning to potential drug dealers. “Dealers are consistently taught a lesson that to deal in Little Egg Harbor is a difficult, expensive and dangerous enterprise. ... we will find you and we will arrest you before you can harm our people with your poison.”

Buzby also said a recent poll of residents found the greatest concerns members of the community have are the potentially harmful effects of illicit drugs. “This investigation and arrest should assure you that the officers that I have the honor to command remain vigilant and will strike down those that would cause your families harm in this way.

“The officers most directly involved with this investigation have been decorated for their efforts,” he added.

The two men made their initial appearances in Trenton federal court on May 1, and were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. Both men appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni and were detained without bail.  —P.J.

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