PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Federal authorities say they have cracked a major heroin ring that’s been supplying drugs in the Philadelphia area and Atlantic City.
Federal investigators raided two homes in Northeast Philadelphia. In one, they found alleged ringleader Juan Caeres, his girlfriend, and another man, along with heroin, scales, grinders, packaging materials, guns and ammo, and two children — a newborn baby and a 4-year-old.
Authorities say 30-year-old Caeres, from Elkins Park, was the ringleader of the operation. He would set up big buys with another suspect, 43-year-old Tennille Lee, who would then take the heroin to a stash house to sell in Atlantic City.
Caeres’ girlfriend, Braulizabeth Reyes-Villanueva, had several cars in her name used to transport the drugs.
Caeres and Reyes-Villanueva — along with Jose M. Suarez-Mendosa, 29; Jerson David Diaz, 31; Ezequiel Regalado-Rosario, 45; Ramcel Duarte-Rodriguez, 21; and Juan Francisco Regalado-Ferreras, 27, all from Philadelphia — were charged with possession with intent to distribute, and they remain behind bars.
If convicted, Suarez-Mendosa and Diaz face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, while the other five defendants face life behind bars.
“Caceres and his cohorts pumped huge quantities of deadly heroin onto the streets of our city and region,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain in a statement. “Drug trafficking is an inherently dangerous business that preys on individuals in addiction and puts innocent bystanders, like the two young children found living in one of these drug dens, in jeopardy.”
In a related investigation, Lee and three others — Ebony Chapman, 40; Andrew Prater, 38; and Theresa Lockhart, 28 — were charged with similar offenses by New Jersey authorities.
“Atlantic County is a part of the epi-center of the opioid epidemic in this country,” added Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner. “The ability to work with multiple agencies to disrupt the illegal activity of large drug trafficking organizations and make our community safer is our mission every day.”