Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Initiative Credited with 15 Drug Arrests in City

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Initiative Credited with 15 Drug Arrests in City

Article excerpt

A three-month probe into drug dealing on the streets of Passaic has led to the arrests of 15 people, charged with peddling heroin, crack, cocaine and marijuana to undercover cops as part of an investigation that involved the city's controversial Quality of Life squad.

Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes announced the arrests at a news conference Friday in Paterson, where she was joined by Passaic Mayor Alex D. Blanco and Public Safety Director Richard Diaz. Valdes said the investigation began in early July and, over three months, undercover agents purchased drugs 23 times at 15 different locations around the city.

Dubbed "Operation Clean Sweep," Valdes said most of the drug buys occurred in four areas: on Passaic Street between First and Seventh streets; on Monroe and Madison streets between Myrtle Avenue and Martha Place; on Highland Avenue and Federal Street; and on Main Avenue and Summer Street.

"We focused on areas where there were citizen complaints of narcotic trafficking," Valdes said, describing the drug operations as "lower-level street operations." All but one of those arrested are from Passaic, she said, and all but one are men.

When asked, Valdes said she was not certain if the arrests were gang-related, but investigators would be asking that question as the cases against suspects move forward. Bails have been set from $50,000 to $100,000.

Valdes said the Prosecutor's Office worked closely with Passaic's Quality of Life unit -- the squad started by the Blanco administration to deal with street crimes and nuisance complaints, such as loitering, loud music and drinking in public. Some residents have complained that the unit, which is headed by Sgt. Roy Bordamonte, has become too aggressive, and its methods were criticized at two protests held at City Hall last month.

Those protests were prompted by the posting of a cellphone video on Facebook in which Bordamonte is heard taunting a group of Latino youths and threatening to deport their parents. …

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