YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Fort Lee police teamed up with federal agents and their Cliffside Park colleagues to seize 3½ pounds of cocaine and more than $20,000 cash while arresting three local residents.
Two defendants were immediately taken into custody and the third was found hiding in a closet in a Morris County residence this past Wednesday after ducking authorities for less than a week, Detective Capt. Stanley Zon said this morning.
Detectives found the cocaine in the kitchen stove of a Cliffside Park apartment during a month-long investigation prompted by the discovery of an electronically-operated compartment in a car stopped in Fort Lee, Zon said.
Detective T.J. Cullen began investigating after one of the defendants, 25-year-old Argenis J. Adames, “fraudulently obtained a New Jersey State identification card from the MVC” using another man’s personal information, the captain said.
Soon after, investigators began following a Chevy Impala that made “short, frequent stops” at a Fletcher Avenue duplex, leading them to believe “the house and its residents were involved in the distribution network,” he said.
Detectives stopped the Chevy on Feb. 12 and were granted consent to search it by the driver, who Zon said wasn’t identified because he doesn’t face charges. They found the hidden compartment, which ordinarily are used to stash drugs, guns, cash and bogus and stolen credit cards, the captain said.
It was empty, he said.
The Impala was seized and the driver released with traffic summonses.
Cliffside Park police and members of the Newark-based High Intensity Drug Trafficking Unit assisted in a warranted search of Adames’s apartment at the corner of Palisade Avenue and Walker Street in Cliffside Park.
They seized the cocaine, along with $6,000 in cash, Zon said.
They also took Adames’s girlfriend, 24-year-old Kelly Pichardo, into custody.
Then they hit the Fletcher Avenue residence, obtaining consent from resident Olven Narvaez.
They seized $14,000 in cash, a small amount of heroin and a kilo press, Zon said.
Three days ago, Fort Lee detectives — along with the U.S. Marshals Service and Parsippany police — caught up with Adames at a residence in Parsippany, where Zon said they found him hiding in a second-floor closet.
Adames was being held on $250,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged with drug possession with intent, various counts of identity-related theft, money laundering and falsifying records.
Pichardo was being held in the jail on $150,000 bail on drug-related counts.
Narvaez was being held on $20,000, chargd with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia and money laundering.
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