15 charged in connection with New Jersey drug ring

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A total of 15 people were charged in two separate indictments stemming from an investigation into drug sales in New Jersey.

A total of 15 people were charged in two separate indictments stemming from an investigation into drug sales in New Jersey.

The charges were the result of "Operation Skin Deep," the New Jersey Attorney General's Office announced on Monday.

PHOTOS: Suspects in NJ drug ring investigation


12 men were charged directly in connection with the drug ring allegedly selling cocaine and designer drugs online, while three more were charged with selling cocaine in Atlantic City.

Investigators say they also uncovered an alleged conspiracy by the accused leader of that ring, Christopher Castelluzzo, and three other members of the ring to murder a former associate and his bodyguard.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said a large amount of cash was also seized.

"Our seizure of $1.2 million from the trunk of a ring member - one of the largest cash seizures in state history - speaks to the huge illicit profits these drug traffickers were reaping," he said in a statement.

The suspects are identified as:

Christopher C. Castelluzzo, 31, of Lake Hopatcong, N.J., who is charged with the first-degree crime of leader of a narcotics trafficking network, which carries a sentence of life in state prison, including 25 years of parole ineligibility;

Luke A. Atwell, 34, of Hamilton (Mercer County), N.J., who allegedly acted as a managerial partner for the ring; and

Aldo T. Lapaix, 28, of Absecon, N.J., who allegedly helped procure drugs for the ring to sell and handled the packaging and shipping of drugs.

Eric Rodriguez, 45, of Cliffside Park, N.J., who allegedly made bulk purchases of cocaine with Castelluzzo.

Henry Bracy, 46, of New York, N.Y.

Shazad Khan, 32, of North Bergen, N.J.

Jose A. Garcia-Hernandez, 51, of Absecon, N.J.

Mervin Menier, 43, of Union City, N.J.

Christian Collado, 27, of Pleasantville, N.J.

Jose Ruvalcaba, 28, of Oxnard, Calif.

Jamaal Johnson, 30, of Baltimore, Md.

"Dre," an unidentified male.

Castelluzzo, Atwell, Rodriguez and Bracy are charged with first-degree conspiracy to commit murder. They allegedly plotted to murder two men, identified as a former associate and his bodyguard, in a dispute over drugs and drug money.

While some steps were made in the plan to kill the targeted men, the killings were not carried out.

Those charged in the Atlantic City indictment are:

Thomas Bullock, 62, of Millville, N.J., is charged with first-degree distribution of cocaine and second-degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine;

Thomas White, 31, of Galloway, N.J., is charged with first-degree distribution of cocaine and second-degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine; and

Benjamin DiPilla, 28, of Ocean City, N.J., is charged with second-degree distribution of cocaine and second-degree conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Related Topics:
newsnew jersey newsdrugdrugsdrug arrestAtlantic CityTrenton
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