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Paterson Traffic Stop Yields Near-Record $2M In Heroin

Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale, at left, at news conference announcing $2M heroin bust.
Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale, at left, at news conference announcing $2M heroin bust. Photo Credit: Joshua Jongsma

PATERSON, N.J. — Paterson police seized nine pounds of heroin worth $2 million -- one of the largest hauls in the department's history -- while arresting a 35-year-old city man.

"This is something we take very seriously here in Paterson," Police Director Jerry Speziale said Thursday, announcing the seizure and arrest of Gabriel Mercado during a traffic stop Wednesday.

"This is something that just fuels the crime that we see in the urban centers and this is why we make sure we go after not only that supply but the source of that supply," Speziale said.

Authorities believe the heroin was headed to an area processing mill. The investigation, which started with a tip, was continuing, Speziale said.

Officers stopped Mercado at a three-way intersection of 31st Street, Market Street and 21st Avenue.

Speziale wouldn't elaborate on Mercado's alleged role with the drugs.

"You have to be someone who obviously is trusted to have that [amount]," he said.

The haul comes soon after Paterson's largest ever -- 44 pounds of cocaine and 20 pounds of heroin -- in October.

Paterson Deputy Chief Dan Nichols credited the department's officers for their work against drugs.

"Every single day, these officers are risking their lives on battling drugs at every level," he said.

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