Sixteen of the defendants were arrested early Wednesday, while two others were already in custody on unrelated charges. The remaining defendants were still being sought.
The federal investigation targeted interconnected drug organizations, one allegedly led by Efraim Rivera and another allegedly run by cousins Raymond Roldan and Jerome "Ant" Ramos. The organizations allegedly supplied distributors in Camden, as well as several suburban communities.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said the charges allege the defendants "turned entire city blocks into distribution centers for narcotics."
The defendants face various drug possession and conspiracy charges.