A new police “investigators” unit in Guttenberg, a segment of the force that was implemented last March, has been credited for making a string of important arrests, including two in which people were charged with the sale of forged government documents and offering prostitution.
According to Lt. Joel Magenheimer, the Police Department received information recently that fake U.S. Permanent Resident Cards (or “green cards”) were allegedly being made and sold in Guttenberg. The cards would allow illegal residents to live here, apply for jobs, and get federal benefits.
Magenheimer said that Investigator Juan Barrera went to an apartment at 2270 70th St. and asked for a residency card two weeks ago. Individuals at that address allegedly took a $150 deposit for the card, and told Barrera to come back in a few days.
According to Magenheimer, when Barrera returned on Oct. 7 at 1:45 p.m., not only was his residency card available, but sex was allegedly offered to him by two women for $150 as well.
Maribel Reyez, 28, and Jazmine Soto, 26, of Queens, N.Y. were charged with promoting prostitution, while Mario Sanchez, 29, and Nadir Dela Vega Romero, 29, of Jersey City were charged with the sale of government documents, promoting prostitution, and maintaining a nuisance, said Magenheimer.
The incident was reported to Hudson County Prosecutor Edward De Fazio and the United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency. All four people were brought to the Hudson County Corrections facility.
“None of them were cooperating at all,” said Magenheimer. “When they identified themselves as police officers, one guy [allegedly] tried to bail out of the window, but he was grabbed by Investigator Barrera.”
National security risk
According to Magenheimer, there was no way to know how many residency cards were made in the past or where they were made. There was no forgery equipment found in the apartment.
Director of Public Safety Michael Caliguiro said that the residency cards were made impeccably and that they could have easily been passed off as legitimate identification.
“I would have passed it right here,” said Caliguiro. “You would really have to be an expert to tell that this is a fake card.”
He said that when the town approves bar maids, taxi drivers, and other individuals for permits, such a card is valid ID to gain employment.
Caliguiro said that the cards would have given the individuals access to everything from travel to a driver’s license. He said that the cards were a risk to national security and that the investigation will continue.
“[The arrest] has implications further than prostitution and illegal cards, because … what’s to stop a person, a terrorist, from obtaining these cards?” said Caliguiro. “So an arrest like this is vital not only for criminal matters, but for the security of our nation.”
Caliguiro said that the investigators made a “great arrest and great investigation” in the case.
Noise leads to mushrooms, pot
The investigators have made other crucial arrests.
Last Saturday, Oct. 11, Investigator Michael Meawad went to 131 68th St. at 1:25 a.m. after being dispatched due to an anonymous noise complaint.
In the police report, Meawad said that when he opened the door, he could smell a strong odor of marijuana. He said he saw a small plastic bag containing “greenish-brown vegetation on the defendant’s floor.”
The occupant, Jarry Gonzalez, allowed Meawad to enter the apartment and allegedly admitted that he had marijuana and mushrooms in his apartment, the report states. Gonzalez allegedly retrieved a black plastic bag containing two plastic bags that held 23 separately wrapped mushrooms, as well as another clear plastic bag of marijuana.
“Empty plastic bags on the coffee table led to almost a pound of marijuana and mushrooms,” said Magenheimer.
Growing supplies for mushrooms
According to police, when Meawad asked if Gonzalez was in possession of any other drugs or paraphernalia, he allegedly submitted another plastic bag of mushrooms from his underwear drawer, as well as $220 hidden in a sock on his bedroom floor. He also presented to Meawad an electric scale, a hypodermic needle used for growing mushrooms, and a small black water hose with a valve and a plastic tube used to water the mushrooms.
Magenheimer said that while there were other people in the apartment, Gonzalez took the blame and was the only individual arrested.
Gonzalez was charged with possession of marijuana under 50 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a hypodermic needle, and possession of controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute one ounce or more of mushrooms. He was released on $535 bail and will have to appear in court on Oct. 30.
Magenheimer said that since March, their investigators have been doing an immense amount of great work. He said that they were doing an “outstanding job” on following up with leads and making numerous arrests.
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