BERKELEY-Detective Bureau received numerous complaints regarding open air drug distribution throughout the Manitou Park Section of the Township. Several Concerned Citizens reported car and foot traffic in the area throughout the day and night often times at or near public parks.
As a result of the information received, Berkeley Township Detectives initiated covert surveillance operations within the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Detectives were able to view in person, drug deals throughout the area. Further, these transactions were observed to be occurring in the vicinity of the public Park on 3rd Ave as well as in the area of the public Baseball Fields on 5th Ave. These areas are frequented by neighborhood children and youth sports leagues.
The fast moving investigation resulted in the identification of several persons believed to be distributors of heroin as well as several vehicles to include a white Lexus that was used in the distribution of Heroin.
As a result of the investigation an arrest warrant was issued for a Levine Leonard 28 , of Belmont Street in South Toms River. The charges were for Possession of Heroin, Possession of Heroin with the intent to distribute and distributing Heroin within 500 Ft of a public park.
The arrest occurred when Leonard was observed driving the white Lexus on Rt. 9 near the Garden State Parkway entrance ramp in South Toms River. A Felony stop which consisted of several marked vehicles was conducted for the safety of the public and the officers. The stop temporarily halted traffic entering the Parkway. Leonard was taken into custody without incident.
Leonard was taken to Berkeley police H.Q. where he was processed and transported to the Ocean County Jail in accordance with the Bail Reform Act. The Lexus was impounded pending forfeiture proceedings. More arrests are likely as the investigation continues.
The Berkeley Township Police Department wants to highlight that this arrest was the direct result of citizens and the police working together. This kind of cooperation is essential in the pursuit of a safer neighborhood. The information provided by residents allowed detectives to move quickly and make this important quality of life arrest. The Berkeley Township Police cannot stress enough that although a strong police presence is important in deterring crime in your neighborhood, that presence alone will not always be enough to prevent issues, such as drug dealing. Residents must become proactive in reporting suspicious activity or suspected crimes. This can be done by calling the Berkeley Township Police at 732-341-1132 x611. Tips can be anonymous.
This investigation was spearheaded by the Berkeley Township Detective Bureau which included, Detective Lieutenant Peter La Rocca, Detective Sergeant Joseph Robertazzi, Detective Joseph Santoro, Detective Michael Riccardelli, Detective William Somers and Detective Michael O’Connor. The Berkeley Township Patrol Division, The Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Warrant and K-9 unit as well as the South Toms River Police Department also assisted in this successful arrest.