TRENTON, N.J. – Two men have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a drug trafficking organization that sold illegal drugs in Mercer County, New Jersey, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced today.
Jawaan Foreman, 37, of Trenton, was sentenced today to five years in prison. Foreman previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to an information charging him with one count of possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base.
Duane Paulino-Escalera, 28, of Philadelphia, was sentenced May 7, 2021, to five years in prison. Paulino-Escalera previously pleaded guilty before Judge Shipp to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.
Paulino-Escalera and Foreman are the ninth and 10th defendants to be sentenced in conjunction with this investigation. Judge Shipp imposed both sentences in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From June 2018 through May 2019, the defendants and others engaged in a heroin trafficking conspiracy in the areas of Stuyvesant, Hoffman, and Highland avenues in Trenton, and around Barbary Road in Philadelphia.
Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, controlled purchases of heroin, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that Robert M. Gbanapolor obtained regular supplies of “bricks” of heroin (approximately 50 smaller, individually packaged glassine envelopes or baggies containing heroin) from Paulino-Escalera, whom Gbanapolor referred to as “Papi.”
Members of the conspiracy distributed the heroin supplied by Paulino-Escalera to other conspirators, distributors, sub-dealers, and end users in and around Trenton. Law enforcement officers intercepted numerous discussions among the conspirators regarding issues such as heroin quality and availability, branding, quantity, and customer satisfaction.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division, Camden Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; and task force officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. She also thanked detectives and officers of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Christine Hoffman; detectives and officers of the Gloucester Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Harry Earle; members of the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; detectives and officers of the Bordentown Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Brian Pesce; and special agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Craig B. Kailimai.
These sentencings are part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric A. Boden and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
Gbanapolor was charged Feb. 25, 2021, in a superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute heroin, and one count of possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. That case remains pending. The charges and allegations against the him are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.