TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of the alleged head, supplier, and other associates in connection with a drug ring that was dealing heroin, crack cocaine, and fentanyl in Salem City. During the course of the investigation and subsequent search warrants, law enforcement seized two handguns, an assault firearm, and a blank gun (imitation firearm that shoots blanks) from members of the trafficking organization.
The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment on Wednesday, December 15, charging alleged members and associates of a Salem City drug ring on second-degree conspiracy, and various drug and weapons offenses.
The charges stem from “Operation Worldwide,” a 10-month long investigation led by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau which led to arrests and charges against the defendants in October 2021. During the investigation and subsequent search warrants, two handguns, an assault firearm, over 17 ounces of crack cocaine, 17 ounces of suspected heroin, and 6 ounces of fentanyl were seized by law enforcement.
“Indictments like this show that law enforcement is best when we collaborate to investigate and prosecute organizations that put communities at risk,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “We are committed to holding those who profit from illegal drugs and utilize crime guns to support their criminal activity accountable.”
“Operation Worldwide is a great example of our commitment to investigating, prosecuting, and dismantling criminal organizations that fuel violence in our communities,” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Let this indictment be a warning to those engaging in criminal behavior, you will be held accountable.”
“This operation resulted in the takedown of a drug ring that was allegedly distributing some of the most highly addictive and deadly narcotics sold on the streets, and as a result of the drug and gun seizures, there will undoubtedly be a positive impact on Salem City and its surrounding communities,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “An operation of this magnitude requires a tremendous amount of collaboration and planning between law enforcement agencies, and I commend all of our detectives and partners who worked tirelessly to dismantle this trafficking network.”
Jerome Armstead, aka “Worldwide,” 47, of Salem, N.J., who allegedly ran the drug set, was indicted on second-degree conspiracy and first-, second-, and third-degree drug offenses. When search warrants were executed on Oct. 8, investigators seized a handgun in an area in close proximity to the Elm Street residence where he allegedly hid contraband. As a result, he was also indicted on two counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, second-degree possession of a weapon as a convicted felon, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine.
The following defendants were indicted on Dec. 15 on second-degree conspiracy, and various second- and third-degree drug offenses. Defendants with an asterisk also face weapons charges:
- Kunta K. Reeves, 43, of Carneys Point;
- William Burden*, 48, of Trenton;
- Deborah Derricott*, 55, of Upper Deerfield, N.J.;
- Kaleb Morris*, 18, of Salem, N.J.;
- Damyja Noel*, 20, of Salem, N.J.;
- Ronnell Booker, 44, of Salem;
- Jake Saxton, 43, of Salem;
- Arthur Armstead, 50, of Salem;
- Artaj Northrop, 26, of Salem; and
- Monique Noel, 39, of Salem.
William Burden, 48, of Trenton, was allegedly one of Jerome Armstead’s suppliers and also faces weapons offenses in connection with a search of his home on Oct. 1, 2021, when police uncovered a blank gun, cocaine, and marijuana. As a result, Burden and his live-in girlfriend, Deborah Derricott, 55, of Upper Deerfield, N.J., were also indicted on second-degree possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes.
Members of the New Jersey State Police and U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Kaleb Morris, 18, of Salem, N.J. on an outstanding warrant for a firearms offense. Investigators seized additional drugs, a handgun, and ammunition from his residence. As a result, Morris and Damyja Noel, 20, of Salem, N.J., are also charged with various weapons charges including second-degree possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine.
The indictment is posted online here: View Indictment
Deputy Attorney General Veronica Vizzard and Deputy Attorney General Aaron Witherspoon are lead prosecutors on the case for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.
The lead investigator in Operation Worldwide Det. Michael Cresci of New Jersey State Police Intelligence and Criminal Enterprise Section, Violent and Organized Crime Control South Bureau and Crime Suppression South Unit. The investigation was conducted by detectives of the New Jersey State Police Intelligence and Criminal Enterprise Section, Violent and Organized Crime Control South Bureau and Crime Suppression South Unit, working in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force, Salem Police Department, Salem County Prosecutors Office, Bridgeton Police Department, Carneys Point Police Department, Salem County Sheriff’s Department, Camden County Police Department, Camden County Sheriff’s Department, Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, and Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000, while second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, and fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
This investigation is another step towards reducing gun violence in New Jersey, one of Acting Attorney General Bruck’s key priority areas. In addition to long-term enforcement actions, the Attorney General’s Office and local, state, and federal law enforcement partners are establishing a statewide gun violence task force, holding a series of gun buyback programs around the state this summer, as well as performing targeted sweeps of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants for violent offenses, as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat gun violence.
Jerome Armstead: D. Coleby Rogers, Esq., Westmont, N.J.
William Burden: Andrew Imperiale, Esq., Ventnor City, N.J.
Deborah Derricott: Scott R. Cohen, Esq., Cherry Hill, N.J.
Kunta K. Reeves: Durann Neil, Esq., Atlantic City, N.J.
Kaleb Morris: Logan Terry, Esq., Cinnaminson, N.J.
Ronnell Booker: Logan Terry, Esq., Cinnaminson, N.J.
Monique Noel: Public Defender Kevin Walker, Mercer County
For Others: Undetermined