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DV Pilot police & fire

30 guns, ammo, gas, drugs found in fortified Fort Lee apartment

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Fort Lee police executing a search warrant in a drug investigation discovered 30 guns — assault weapons, handguns and rifles — along with thousands of rounds of ammunition behind a false closet wall in an apartment fortified with steel bars on the windows, high-grade locks on the doors and surveillance cameras, authorities said today.

They also seized a variety of drugs – cocaine, pot, Molly and prescription medications – along with an undisclosed amount of cash and tanks of compressed gas during searches last night and Thursday night at the Linwood Park Co-op on Fairview Avenue.

The drugs included marijuana wax, a concentrated form of pot made in a lab that contains more than more than 80% pure THC (marijuana’s active chemical), compared with the 20%-30% found in a marijuana leaf. It’s made with butane in a lab — thus explaining the gas tanks.

Thirty high-capacity magazines, along with 43 legal-capacity magazines, were also among the items seized, one law enforcement source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

Also found were food rations, another added.

Fort Lee’s fire prevention unit was summoned “due to the large amount of ammunition and portable compressed gas tanks found in the apartment,” Police Chief Keith Bendul said. After an inspector investigated, the tanks were removed to eliminate the fire hazard, he said.

The target of the probe, Onn Rapeika, was arrested on nearby Lemoine Avenue and charged with a host of serious offenses, the chief said in a news release just after noon.

Bendul said Rapeika, a 35-year-old Alpine native whose family owns a pizzeria on Lemoine Avenue, then posted $100,000 bail and was released from police headquarters.

He’s charged with:

  • possession of assault weapons;
  • possession of high-capacity magazines;
  • possession of brass knuckles;
  • possession of weapons while committing a drug offense;
  • drug distribution;
  • distribution of marijuana wax;
  • two counts of distributing drugs near a school;
  • two counts of distributing drugs near a park;
  • operating a fortified drug facility;
  • money laundering;
  • cocaine possession;
  • marijuana possession;
  • Molly possession, with the intent to distribute it;
  • prescription drug possession

The investigation was conducted by Fort Lee Police Anti-Crime/Narcotics Detectives Cory Horton and Timothy Cullen and Police Officer Bryan Drumgoole, Bendul said.

“The Bergen County Sheriff’s Department Bureau of Criminal Identification (B.C.I.) responded to the scene and assisted with inventorying the various weapons and secured them as evidence,” the chief said. “A representative from [the federal bureau of] Alcohol Tobacco Firearms (A.T.F.) responded to the scene and assisted with the investigation into the various assault weapons, handguns, and rifles.”

During a warranted search of Rapeika’s garage, Bendul said, detectives “discovered what appeared to be a military ordinance. The search was halted and the Bergen County Police Bomb Squad was called. The Fort Lee Fire Department was also notified as per established procedures. The Bomb Squad examined the devices and determined that they were not live and were safe.

“This investigation led to the seizure of drugs, high powered weapons and illegal armor piercing ammunition but more importantly it enabled us to remove dangerous contents and barriers from an apartment that could have endangered the lives of emergency responders and residents,” he added. “On many fronts our community is safer because of the actions of all the involved officers.”

CLIFFVIEW PILOT withheld reporting the discovery and arrest while the investigation was pending.

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