PATERSON, N.J. -- The top member of a ring that flooded Paterson with heroin was sentenced Thursday to a plea-bargained 3½-year minimum prison stretch before he's eligible for parole.
Marino Pimentel-Tejada, 35, whose total sentence is 10 years, wasn't the only one who cut a deal on charges of participating in a heroin production facility.
Sentenced to five years each in prison in exchange for guilty pleas -- with parole eligibility after 51 months -- were three fellow Paterson residents:
Yinsys Pimentel-Tejada, 28;Manuel Garcia-Tejada, 31;Nuris Dominguez-Lara, 34.
State Police who smashed the ring found a table "overflowing" with glassine envelopes containing the drug, along with grinders, sifters and other packaging materials, a subsequent grand jury indictment returned in October charged.
NJSP investigators found more than $20,000 cash in one defendant's car, along with a handgun and shotgun, in a sealed hydraulic compartment, the indictment said.
Before they were through, authorities had seized three-quarters of a pound of raw heroin and more than $55,000 in cash, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said.
“By putting these large-scale suppliers in prison and dismantling their heroin mill, the State Police cut off a major source of heroin in the region and undoubtedly saved lives,” Porrino said.
“All too often, these mills are not only responsible for manufacturing the poison that is heroin," said Col. Rick Fuentes, the State Police superintendent. "[T]hey are responsible for the violence that goes hand-in hand with drug trafficking."
Deputy Attorney General Brandy Malfitano prosecuted the quartet and took the guilty pleas for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The defendants were indicted in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Trafficking North Bureau.
A fifth defendant, Robert Grady, 40, of Paterson, pleaded guilty Wednesday to third-degree possession of methamphetamine in exchange for five years in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 24.
Detectives initially charged Marino Pimentel-Tejada on June 1, 2016, when they arrested him in a vehicle with Grady with 135 bricks of heroin on 28th Street in Paterson, Porrino said. Each brick consists of approximately 50 single-dose glassines of heroin.
Grady also had several methamphetamine pills, the attorney general said.
State Police late raided Pimentel-Tejada's East 24th Street home, where they found the heroin milling operation.