TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the arrests of the alleged head, supplier, and other associates in connection with a drug ring that was dealing heroin, crack cocaine, and fentanyl in Salem City, N.J. During the course of the investigation and subsequent search warrants, law enforcement seized two handguns, an assault firearm, and a blank gun (imitation firearm that shoots blanks) from members of the trafficking organization.
The arrests stem from “Operation Worldwide,” a 10-month investigation led by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, conducted in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force, Salem Police Department, Salem County Prosecutors Office, Bridgeton Police Department, Carneys Point Police Department, Salem County Sheriff’s Department, Camden County Police Department, Camden County Sheriff’s Department, Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, and Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.
Over 17 ounces of crack cocaine, 17 ounces of suspected heroin, and 6 ounces of fentanyl (drug totals pending laboratory testing) were seized during the investigation. Beginning last Friday, October 8, the New Jersey State Police and Division of Criminal Justice arrested the alleged leader, supplier, and associates of a drug set that operated out of residences on East Broadway and Elm Street in Salem City. In total, 11 defendants are charged with various drug and weapons offenses as a result of this investigation.
“Operation Worldwide is a perfect example of our commitment to targeting not just individual drug dealers but entire trafficking organizations,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “When we take down significant drug networks like this one, we are not just ridding the affected community of dangerous narcotics, we also reduce the number of crime guns in our communities. I commend the New Jersey State Police, Division of Criminal Justice, Salem Police Department, and U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force for their outstanding work.”
Jerome Armstead, 47, of Salem, N.J., aka “Worldwide,” who allegedly ran the drug set, is charged with second-degree conspiracy and first-, second-, and third-degree drug offenses. When search warrants were executed on Oct. 8, investigators seized a handgun in an area in close proximity to the Elm Street residence where he allegedly hid contraband. As a result, he is also charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon and second-degree possession of a weapon as a convicted felon.
The following defendants were arrested on Oct. 8 and are charged with various second- and third-degree drug offenses. Defendants with an asterisk* also face second-degree conspiracy charges:
Burden is allegedly one of Jerome Armstead’s suppliers and also faces weapons offenses in connection with a search of his home on Oct. 1, 2021, when police uncovered a blank gun, cocaine, and marijuana. Burden’s live-in girlfriend, Deborah Derricott, 54, of Upper Deerfield, N.J., is also charged with second-degree conspiracy and various drug and weapons offenses.
Members of the New Jersey State Police and U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Kaleb Morris, 18, of Salem, N.J. on an outstanding warrant for a firearms offense. Investigators seized additional drugs, a handgun, and ammunition from his residence. As a result, Morris and Damyja Noel, 20, of Salem, N.J., are charged with various drug and weapons charges in connection with the drug set.
“These arrests speak to our commitment to investigating, disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations who profit from illegal drugs and utilize crime guns to support their trade,” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work closely with law enforcement across all levels to eliminate criminal organizations that destroy lives and put our communities at risk.”
“This operation resulted in the takedown of a drug ring that was allegedly distributing some of the most highly addictive and deadly narcotics sold on the streets, and as a result of the drug and gun seizures, there will undoubtedly be a positive impact on Salem City and its surrounding communities,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “An operation of this magnitude requires a tremendous amount of collaboration and planning between law enforcement agencies, and I commend all of our detectives and partners who worked tirelessly to dismantle this trafficking network.”
“These arrests demonstrate just how effective cooperative, targeted law enforcement efforts can be,” said Acting Salem County Prosecutor Kristin J. Telsey. “The elimination of this ring has an immediate and direct impact on quality of life for our Salem City residents and beyond and undoubtedly saved lives.”
At detention hearings held on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, Jerome Armstead was detained, while defendants Arthur Armstead and Jake Saxton were released by the court on pre-trial monitoring. At detention hearings on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 William Burden and Kunta Reeves were detained. The other arrested defendants are on pre-trial release.
Deputy Attorney General Veronica Vizzard and Deputy Attorney General Aaron Witherspoon are lead prosecutors on the case for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.
Operation Worldwide was conducted by detectives of the New Jersey State Police Intelligence and Criminal Enterprise Section, Violent and Organized Crime Control South Bureau and Crime Suppression South Unit, working in collaboration with the Salem Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.