TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a Camden drug dealer was sentenced to state prison today in connection with the seizure in March 2017 of over 30 pounds of the super-potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.
The seizure by the New Jersey State Police, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the DEA Camden HIDTA Task Force and Camden County Metro Police Department set a record at the time for the largest fentanyl seizure in New Jersey history. The New Jersey State Police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration New York Division broke the record three months later with a seizure of nearly 100 pounds of fentanyl.
Yahmire Boardley, 23, of Camden City, N.J., was sentenced today to seven years in state prison by Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley in Camden County. Boardley pleaded guilty on Jan. 11 to a charge of second-degree possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute.
Fentanyl is one of the deadliest opioids, with a potency that is 50 times greater than heroin. The 14 kilos – or 31 pounds – of fentanyl seized from Boardley in Camden in March 2017 could have yielded over five million lethal doses, since a dose as small as 2 to 3 milligrams can be fatal.
Deputy Attorney General Katherine Morris prosecuted Boardley for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Boardley was arrested in a cooperative investigation by the New Jersey State Police Trafficking South Unit and ICE Homeland Security Investigations Cherry Hill Office, assisted by the U.S. DEA Camden HIDTA Task Force, DEA Camden Resident Office, and Camden County Metro Police Department.
“The fentanyl seized from Boardley could have yielded enough lethal doses to kill over half the population of New Jersey,” said Attorney General Grewal. “As fentanyl-related deaths have skyrocketed in New Jersey, we’ve redoubled our efforts to lock up those responsible for the illicit supply of this deadly opioid, which in this case was coming through the mail from China.”
“With massive quantities of fentanyl being trafficked into New Jersey and mixed into heroin, cocaine and counterfeit oxy pills by drug dealers, it’s no wonder fentanyl is so prevalent and is causing so many deaths,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Law enforcement is working hard to stem this tide.”
“This massive seizure prevented more than five million potentially lethal doses of fentanyl from hitting the streets, but before that can happen, our troopers and their canine partners must put their own lives on the line, dealing with a substance so deadly that coming into contact with even the smallest amounts can have tragic consequences,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This sentence is a testament to the outstanding work of the State Police Trafficking South Unit and our law enforcement partners who are committed to protecting our communities from this deadly epidemic.”
“New Jersey has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis,” said Richard Reinhold, Resident Agent in Charge, HSI, Cherry Hill. “This recent interagency victory in this ongoing epidemic is proof that our combined forces have the power to make a difference.”
Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, said, “There is no telling how many lives were saved by this large seizure of fentanyl. The investigation once again highlights the fact that these drug traffickers show no concern for the safety of the public. Their only concern is the money they can make by pushing their poison onto the streets of New Jersey, and we will continue to do our part to stop them.”
“Camden City had 90 fatal overdoses in 2017, which was more than 2016 and 2015 combined, and fentanyl was the primary culprit,” said Chief Scott Thomson of the Camden County Metro Police Department. “We will continue our collaboration with state and federal law enforcement partners in the relentless pursuit of those trafficking this extremely lethal product to get this poison off our streets.”
Investigators learned that Boardley was receiving packages of fentanyl that were being shipped into the U.S. from China to addresses in Camden. On March 16, 2017, multiple search warrants were executed by members of the State Police from the Trafficking South, Hazmat, K-9, Crime Suppression South and TEAMS Units, along with federal agents of ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Camden HIDTA Task Force and DEA Camden Resident Office, and officers of the Camden Metro Police Department. The investigators seized a total of 14 kilograms of fentanyl from multiple locations. They arrested Boardley that same day at his Camden residence.
While it has been spotlighted for killing Prince and other celebrities, fentanyl also is responsible for a growing death toll in New Jersey, where there were 417 overdose deaths from fentanyl in 2015 and over 800 deaths from fentanyl in 2016. Dealers commonly mix fentanyl with heroin or cocaine, or sell it in powder compounds or counterfeit pills disguised as heroin, oxycodone or Xanax. Given the tiny size of a lethal dose, drug users are dying because dealers are careless about how much fentanyl they put in such mixes and pills. Fentanyl is so potent that medics and police have been sickened by contact with it while responding to overdoses or making arrests. In addition to fentanyl, seven fentanyl analogs have been sold on the street in New Jersey. The Attorney General’s Office issued an emergency order last year adding those fentanyl knockoffs to the list of drugs subject to the strictest level of state control.
Deputy Attorney General Morris prosecuted Boardley for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Erik Daab and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis. Detective Garrett Cullen was the lead detective for the State Police Intelligence Section, Violent & Organized Crime Control Bureau South, Trafficking South Unit. Attorney General Grewal commended the attorneys and all of the detectives, agents and officers who participated in the investigation for the New Jersey State Police, Homeland Security Investigations Cherry Hill, the DEA, the DEA Camden HIDTA Task Force, and the Camden County Metro Police Department.
The record set in this case was broken in June 2017, when the New Jersey State Police Trafficking North Unit and the DEA New York Division arrested Jesus Carillo-Pineda and Daniel Vasquez as they exchanged 40 kilograms of fentanyl in the parking lot of a business in North Bergen, N.J. The next day, the State Police Trafficking South Unit seized five kilos of fentanyl, nearly 40 kilos of heroin, and about five pounds of methamphetamine at a house in Willingboro, N.J., where Carillo-Pineda had been staying, bringing the total amount of fentanyl seized in that case to 45 kilos, or nearly 100 pounds.
For Boardley: Michael Pinsky, Esq., Law Offices of M.W. Pinsky, Westmont, N.J.