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10 Arrested, 140 Pounds of Marijuana Seized in Drug Raids

Residents from Brick, Toms River, Belmar among those arrested

A two month-long investigation by a number of local law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrests of 10 people, plus the seizure of cars, cash and about 140 pounds of marijuana, authorities said.

The culmination of "Operation Weed Whacker," which began in April and came to a close Tuesday, was announced Wednesday by Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato. During that time authorities executed search warrants in towns in Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex counties, he said in a statement.

"I have directed my Special Operations Group to slam shut the door to Ocean County on drug traffickers," Coronato said. "This will be accomplished by building strong law enforcement partnerships to protect Ocean County residents from the crime and violence associated with illicit narcotics."

The operation established probable cause to obtain and execute search warrants at homes and businesses located in Toms River, Brick, Jackson, Asbury Park and Old Bridge, the prosecutor's office said in its statement.

As a result of the searches, investigators were able to seized approximately 140 pounds of marijuana, a Makarov .380 caliber handgun, approximately $500,000 in drug proceeds, drug paraphernalia, packaging and distribution materials, and electronic scales utilized to weigh drugs.

Over the course of the investigation authorities searched six local properties, including:

  • A garage area located at 218 Route 547, Jackson, on April 23.  This location was rented by Jason Smith, of Toms River.
  • The residence of Jason Smith and Samantha Stinson, 2712 Iverness Drive, Toms River, on April 23.
  • The residence of James Lowther, 11 Maplewood Drive, Brick, on May 6.
  • The residence of Gordon J. Malkowski, 162 Main Street Apartment 5, Asbury Park, on May 6.
  • The residence of Justin T. Nungesser, 514 George Road, Toms River, on May 14.
  • A storage unit located at PS Public Storage, 3651 Route 9, Old Bridge, on May 14.

Those arrested and charged were:

  • Ahmad Ahmed, 23, of 317 Barcelona Drive, Toms River; charged with possession with intent to distribute over 5 pounds of marijuana and possession of marijuana. Superior Court Judge Francis Hodgson set bail at $50,000 cash.
  • Jason Smith, 24, of 2712 Inverness Drive, Toms River; charged with possession with intent to distribute over 5 pounds of marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Smith was released on a summons.
  • Samantha Stinson, 24, of 2712 Inverness Drive, Toms River; charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Stinson was released on a summons.
  • James Lowther, 41, of 11 Maplewood Drive, Brick; charged with possession with intent to distribute over one ounce but less than 5 pounds of marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Lowther was released on a summons.
  • Gordon Malkowski, 40, of 162 Main Street, Asbury Park; charged with possession with intent to distribute over 5 pounds of marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana over five pounds with intent to distribute while being within a school zone and possession of drug paraphernalia. Hodgson set bail for Malkowski at $5,000 cash.
  • Justin Nungesser, 34, of 514 George Road, Toms River; charged with possession with intent to distribute over 25 pounds of marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia (ccales and packaging materials). Hodgson set bail for Nungesser at $150,000 cash.
  • Catherine M. Sandoval, 30, of 514 George Road, Toms River; charged with possession with intent to Distribute over 25 pounds of marijuana and possession of marijuana. Sandoval was released on her own recognizance.
  • Deshon Hardy, 33, of 10 Blossom Court, Cherry Hill; charged with possession with intent to distribute over 25 pounds of marijuana and possession of marijuana. Hodgson set bail for Hardy at $250,000 cash.
  • Joseph T. Irons II, 30, of 434 Jefferson Street, Eatontown; charged with possession with intent to distribute over 25 pounds of marijuana and possession of marijuana. Hodgson set bail for Irons at $250,000 cash.
  • Michael Merwin, 28, of 1209 Pine Tree Way, Belmar; charged with possession with intent to distribute over 25 pounds of marijuana and possession of marijuana. Hodgson JSC set bail for Merwin at $150,000 cash.

Authorities also seized several vehicles that were "utilized by those charged to facilitate their drug distribution activities," the statement said. The vehicles included a 2006 silver Toyota Avalon, operated by Malkowski; a 2007 silver Audi RS4, operated by Smith; a 2006 black Chevrolet Suburban, operated by Nungesser; and a 2006 gray BMW 750, operated by Hardy.

The investigation is continuing and additional arrests and additional charges are expected, the statement said.

Agencies involved in the investigation, in addition to the prosecutor's office, included the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ocean County Sheriff's Department and a slew of local police departments including those in Toms River, Brick, Lakewood, Jackson and Asbury Park.

proud May 22, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Yes, @ Maggie, it would be a revenue producer, but once the Governments got there slimy, greedy little paws in it ,the reefer would be so expensive the pot heads would not have disposable income to purchase flood insurance.
nan May 23, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Did not have time to read through all the comments. The point I want to make is that every report of a gun involved in any way should alway include whether the gun was legally registered or not. When it is not known at time of reporting state so and follow up as soon as you get the info.
TomsRiver citizen May 25, 2013 at 04:21 PM
It was a stunt gun, not even a real weapon. Obviously this article is not very truthful in their facts.
j r May 27, 2013 at 03:38 AM
TAX THAT AZZ !!!
theresa barnett July 04, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Enough already with the small time drug dealers . How big does this bubble have to get before you bust it ? RE DO how you check whats coming in by air and water and who has knowledge of how and who knows its coming in that way. This is really getting old.sTOP MAKING YOUR LIVING OFF OF THE POOR LIKE THIS.

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