Francisco Perez, 31, and Nadia Moronta Pena, 33, are charged by criminal complaint with conspiring to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin. The defendants appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court. Perez was detained. Pena was released on $150,000 unsecured bond. During the course of an investigation into the illegal manufacturing and distribution of opioids and other narcotics in New Jersey, an undercover law enforcement agent received information that Perez was illegally distributing Oxycodone.
On Jan. 23, 2018, Perez allegedly met the undercover agent in Paterson, New Jersey, and sold the undercover agent approximately 1,000 pills that were similar in size, shape, color, and physical markings to 30-milligram Oxycodone tablets manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. However, when the pills were tested in a lab, they were found to contain a mixture of Tramadol, a Schedule IV synthetic opioid, and heroin.
On Feb. 7, 2018, the undercover agent again met with Perez in Paterson, this time to purchase up to 40,000 pills. During the meeting, Perez motioned to Pena, who brought over a white bag containing thousands of pills for the undercover agent to examine before the deal. Perez and Pena were then arrested at the scene, and law enforcement agents recovered more than 20,000 additional pills that were similar in appearance to the heroin pills that Perez sold the undercover agent on January 23, 2018. Around the time Perez and Pena were arrested, law enforcement officers conducted a search of their residence in Pennsylvania. They recovered numerous other pills, approximately one kilogram of a powdery substance believed to be heroin, pill-press materials, and a box containing several bottles of liquid labeled “Fentanyl.” A stolen firearm was recovered from inside a compartment in the wall of the residence.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents with the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Valerie A. Nickerson in Newark, as well as the DEA Scranton Resident Office, the Hazleton Police Department, and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation leading to the charges.