New Jersey Strong news – TRENTON, N.J. DEA reports 1.22.2020 – DEA New Jersey Division Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson and U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito announced a Pennsylvania man and two Mercer County, N.J., men today admitted their roles distributing heroin in and around Trenton.

Duane Paulino-Escalera, 27, of Philadelphia, and Izae Alford, 21, of Trenton, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court to separate informations charging each of them with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. Darryl Young, 27, of Trenton, pleaded guilty before Judge Shipp to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin.

In June 2019, Paulino-Escalera, Alford, Young and eight others were charged by complaint with conspiracy to distribute heroin. Paulino-Escalera, Alford and Young are the first three defendants to plead guilty.

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, as well as in the area of 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.

The heroin conspiracy counts to which Paulino-Escalera and Alford pleaded guilty each carry a statutory mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million. The heroin conspiracy count to which Young pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $1 million. Sentencings for Paulino-Escalera and Alford are scheduled for May 4, 2020; sentencing for Young is scheduled for May 6, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division, Camden Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge 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 guilty pleas. He also thanked detectives and officers of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Charles A. Fiore; 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 Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson for their assistance.