Checkmate Loses: Morganville Drug Dealer Caught Selling at the Shore Heading to Prison

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OCEAN COUNTY, NJ – Everyone is welcome to visit the Jersey Shore, but when you’re here, police expect you not to bring your cocaine stash and deal drugs. That’s what happened to one Jersey Shore visitor caught up in Operation Checkmate, and anti-drug operation last year at the Jersey Shore.

James Hemenway, 43, of Morganville, pled guilty before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, P.J.Cr.P, to Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine with Intent to Distribute in violation. The state is seeking a 7 year prison sentence for Hemenway.

According to Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer, “Operation Checkmate” was a four-month-long cooperative, multi-jurisdictional investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, DEA and other local agencies.

“The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force managed and directed three simultaneous multi-agency investigations into high level cocaine distribution in Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex Counties, as well as New York City.  During the course of these investigations, approximately 50 additional law enforcement personnel were assigned to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force on a full-time basis.  Multiple agencies – both within and outside of Ocean County – assisted in every aspect of all three investigations,” Billhimer said. “The investigations, identified as “Operation Checkmate,” began in July 2021 and concluded in October of 2021.”

Billhimer said the three cocaine networks were responsible for the import of more than three kilograms of cocaine per week into the Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex County areas. 

“Through sophisticated surveillance methods and undercover operatives, “Operation Checkmate” was successful in disrupting and dismantling illicit controlled dangerous substance (CDS) distribution activities in these three counties, as well as New York City.  On October 26, 2021, “Operation Checkmate” closed with the apprehension of 24 individuals for various offenses involving distribution of controlled dangerous substances.  Additionally, 24 search warrants were executed resulting in the seizure of more than four kilograms of cocaine, over 15 pounds of marijuana, in excess of $650,000 in United States currency,  seven firearms (three handguns, three “ghost guns,” and one pistol grip shotgun), ten vehicles, and additional illegal narcotics,” Billhimer said in a statement today. “On October 26, 2021, Detectives executed court-authorized search warrants on Hemenway’s residence in Morganville as well as two motor vehicles.  As a result, Detectives seized approximately 130 grams of cocaine and $29,000 in United States Currency.  Hemenway was transported to the Ocean County Jail, and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.”

In the end, Checkmate doesn’t always guarantee a win. In fact, when it comes to Ocean County, Checkmate loses often.