TRENTON — Ten people, including an alleged ringleader, were indicted today as part of a Paterson-based drug ring that illegally distributed more than one thousand pills per week of the addictive painkiller oxycodone, state authorities said.
The indictment, handed up by a state grand jury in Mercer County, charges Aurelio Gutierrez, 61, of Paterson, with organizing and financing the drug ring, which served customers from throughout northern New Jersey, the Attorney General’s Office said.
He then allegedly used people known as “runners” to fan out and obtain the prescription drugs by various means, including buying them off low-income residents, obtaining fraudulent prescriptions and using their own prescriptions for personal medical conditions.
Dealers, or “pill brokers,” would then go to Gutierrez to purchase pills.
Authorities said demand was so high that the drug ring would often sell out within 24 hours.
“These highly addictive pain pills are causing escalating overdose deaths across New Jersey and luring young people to the cheaper and even more lethal alternative of heroin,” acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said.
Gutierrez was charged with promoting organized street crime, and he and his nine co-conspirators were charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance and other various drug charges.
If convicted of the most serious charges, Gutierrez faces 10 to 20 years in state prison, and the others face five to 10 years in prison. Attorneys for those indicted could not immediately be reached for comment.
The charges stem from arrests last year as part of Operation White Silk. Ten defendants, all lower-level ring members, have already pleaded guilty, authorities said.
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10 indicted as part of Paterson-based oxycodone drug ring – The Star-Ledger