For Immediate Release
Eight Men Charged With Fentanyl Trafficking
NEWARK, N.J. – Eight men were charged today for their roles in a drug trafficking organization operating in and around Union County, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Lance Baker, 54, of Perth Amboy, New Jersey; Rooks Crawford, 57, of Linden, New Jersey; Derrick Gilliam, 48, of Alburtis, Pennsylvania; Abinader Liriano-Balbuena, 37, of Bronx, New York; Michael Williams, 54, of Roselle, New Jersey; and Tyrone Gilliam, 60, Lewis Martinez-Berroa, 38, and Earl Riley, 58, all of Elizabeth, New Jersey, are each charged by superseding complaint with one count of conspiracy to distributed controlled substances.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Baker, Crawford, Derrick Gilliam, Tyrone Gilliam, Martinez-Berroa, Riley, and Williams were part of a drug trafficking organization operating in and around Union County. Law enforcement officers observed and documented dozens of narcotics transactions during the investigation. From July 2022 to March 2023, law enforcement officers seized more than 9,000 individual doses of fentanyl sold by the organization. Martinez-Berroa, Tyrone Gilliam, and Derrick Gilliam were the primary suppliers of fentanyl to the drug trafficking organization.
On March 21, 2023, law enforcement executed a series of judicially authorized searches at several locations used by the members of the conspiracy. At a location in the Bronx, New York, law enforcement officials located a “mill” used to manufacture and package narcotics and recovered approximately 10 kilograms of a substance believed to be fentanyl.
The count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances with which each of the defendants is charged carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Bryan Miller in Newark; special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Daniel J. Kafafian in Newark; special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Freaney; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor William A. Daniel and Chief Harvey Barnwell; the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone; the Summit Police Department, under the direction of Chief Steven Zagorski; the Elizabeth Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Earl Graves and Chief Giacommo Sacca; the Perth Amboy Police Department, under the direction of Chief Lawrence Cattano; the Union County Police Department, under the direction of Capt. Martin Mogensen; the Union County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Peter Corvelli; the Scotch Plains Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jeffrey Briel; and the Linden Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Hart, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Mezzanotte and Robert Frazer of the Organized Crime and Gangs Unit in Newark and Christopher Fell of the General Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.