Drug users in suburban New Jersey aren't necessarily heading to Paterson, Newark, Camden or Atlantic City for drugs, but are getting high courtesy of a new breed of suburban dealer.
Darius Ghahary, the 44-year-old Upper Saddle River father who has been accused of running a large scale drug business out of his suburban home, and selling a lethal dose of heroin to 19-year-old Daniel Lajterman of Ramsey, is an example of the new face of the local War on Drugs, a NorthJersey.com report contends.
So is Nicholas Ippolito, 22, of Point Pleasant Boro in Ocean County, who has been charged in the drug induced death of Joseph Piezzo, 35, who died in his home on Bristol Lane in Brick on Dec. 19, 2013, said Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato.
Law enforcement officials have been noticing a trend – local drug deals are not originating in Paterson or Newark, but from suburban operations like the ones Ghahary and Ippolito allegedly had set up.
“This is the type of case we are really moving towards,” Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli told NorthJersey.com.
“This is not a street dealer. This is the new war. This is the new battlefield.”
In just a few years, the drug's purity has jumped from 12 to 65 percent, according to Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office. With it, overdose deaths in Ocean County, N.J., home to Point Pleasant and other seashore communities battling it all, doubled from 53 in 2012 to 112 in 2013.
And the charges associated with suburban-based drug overdoses are now more severe, the report said.
Molinelli’s office is pursuing first-degree charges against local dealers implicated in overdose deaths, it said. Molinelli told NorthJersey.com that the message of the charges against Ghahary and other accused dealers is that “the average resident of Bergen County who is providing drugs to another person could be held liable for their death.”
Authorities say Ghahary has been charged with first-degree strict liability for drug-induced death, second-degree manslaughter, hindering apprehension, tampering with evidence, maintaining a drug factory, and distributing heroin.
Investigations into the increase in particularly prescription pills and heroin use continue to focus on the flow of drugs into and out of cities, the report said. But, investigators believe that most users’ first experiences are from local dealers, the report said.
“I believe that the majority of first-time heroin users are getting it from within our county,” Molinelli told the paper.
“The war I think we can win is the one that takes place within this area, within this county, because that’s where I think the penalty of a first-degree offense will have a much greater impact.”