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Passaic Sheriff: All In Day's Work For Partners In Drug, Gun Seizures

Melvin York
Melvin York Photo Credit: MUGSHOT: Courtesy PASSAIC COUNTY SHERIFF

PATERSON, N.J. -- Two Passaic County sheriff's partners seized seven bricks of heroin from a Lodi man, found a stolen gun behind an abandoned house and arrested a drugged driver slumped over the steering wheel of her car -- all during the same shift in Paterson on Sunday.

Detective Americo Escobar and Officer Joseph Royce were patrolling the area of the Riverside Terrace development off 5th Avenue Sunday morning when they saw Melvin York, 46, selling heroin to two women, Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik said.

The women ran as the pair grabbed York, who Berdnik said was carrying $1,500 worth of heroin. He was arrested and charged, the sheriff said.

A short time later, a good Samaritan flagged down the pair on Rosa Parks Boulevard and expressed concern about a large group of people gathered behind an abandoned house, Berdnick said.

No one was around, but a search of the area turned up a 9mm Smith and Wesson reported stolen out of Haledon and one empty magazine, he said.

A few hours later, they spotted 26-year-old Alexis Depalma slumped over the steering wheel of her car near the corner of 8th Avenue and East 28th Street.

She told them "she was just taking a nap," Berdnick said, adding that the pair spotted "various narcotic paraphernalia in plain view."

A search turned up four bags of crack and one of heroin, he said.

The sheriff praised Escobar and Royce.

Arresting out-of-towners who come to Paterson to buy drugs sends a message, the sheriff said.

What's more, Berdnik said: "Anytime a stolen weapon is taken off our streets, that is a positive development and hopefully stops an individual from being the victim of an act of violence."

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