What began as a routine motor vehicle investigation last Friday morning turned out to be one of the biggest drug busts in recent North Bergen police history.
According to Lt. Frank Cannella, the tale began last Friday at 8:45 a.m., when Patrolmen Nicholas Galliano and Jorge Raposo noticed a green BMW parked at the corner of 43rd Street and Liberty Avenue.
“They were patrolling the section and noticed that the driver of the vehicle was asleep behind the wheel,” Cannella said.
Cannella said that the two officers then got out of the vehicle to rouse the driver, 35-year-old Hector Velez of Williamstown, N.J.
“When they finally awoke him, he [allegedly] was unable to provide any form of identification or documentation for the car,” Cannella said. “He [allegedly] had no driver’s license, no registration, no insurance card, nothing.”
When the officers were investigating Velez, they noticed something on the floor behind the passenger seat of the vehicle.
“It was a spoon that was [allegedly] apparently used for narcotics,” Cannella said. “There was also some white powder.”
Cannella said that Velez was asked to sign a consent form in order for the police officers to search the vehicle.
“He agreed to the search,” Cannella said.
As the police officers conducted the search, they couldn’t believe what they found.
“They say they recovered approximately one ounce of cocaine, with an approximate value of about $5,000 or more,” Cannella said. “They found one liter bottle and a half gallon filled with liquid gama hydroxy butyrate, also known as GHB, which is also known as the ‘date rape’ drug. If it’s sold by the capful, it’s worth about $5,000 or more. There was also a small amount of marijuana, along with blue plastic bags that were filled with crystal methamphetamine.”
Cannella said that the officers also discovered two bags filled with prescription pills, like Xanax, that there were no prescriptions for.
‘A little bit of everything’
“It was a regular drug smorgasbord,” Cannella said. “He [allegedly] had so many different types of drugs on him. You don’t usually find that. A normal drug find is centered on one drug. This one had a little bit of everything.”
Velez was placed under arrest and brought to North Bergen police headquarters, where he was booked.
“We then contacted the owner of the vehicle to come and pick up the car,” Cannella said.
At that time, 38-year-old Antonietta Carozza of Yonkers, N.Y. came to North Bergen police headquarters and she was immediately arrested as well.
“When she came, she wouldn’t admit to who owned the narcotics, so we arrested both of them,” Cannella said.
Both were charged with 11 different counts of drug possession and conspiracy, receiving at least one count for each different narcotic found in the vehicle.
They were charged with intent to distribute, intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school, and intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a park for the GHB, cocaine and crystal methamphetamine, as well as simple possession of the marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Both were transported to Hudson County Jail, where they were held in lieu of substantial bail. Velez’ bail was set at $100,000, because he had prior arrests and because he allegedly got physically violent with the police officers at the scene where he was arrested. Carozza was held for $50,000 bail.
“Neither party would admit as to whose drugs they were,” Cannella said. “But that’s a substantial amount. It was good police work that ended up with a nice arrest.”
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or email@example.com