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'Operation Speed Racer' - N.J. drug bust targets meth, heroin distribution operation

NJ.com, December 8, 2014

TRENTON – An undercover investigation dubbed "Operation Speed Racer" has led to the indictment of five men on methamphetamine and heroin distribution charges in southern New Jersey, the state attorney general's office said Monday.

The arrests of the five men, all Mexican nationals, occurred over two days in July and one of the men was shot by a State Police trooper when he tried to flee and drove toward officers approaching his car to make the arrest, authorities said.

"We charge that these defendants were major drug traffickers who helped fuel the destructive rise in addiction in our state," acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in a statement. "The State Police and DEA led an excellent undercover investigation that will enable us to keep these men behind bars for a long time.”

Juan Gutierrez-Valencia, 24, of Pemberton, faces numerous charges including first-degree possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Gutierrez-Valencia was arrested July 7 after he arranged to sell two kilograms of crystal meth to an undercover detective during a meeting in a car outside at a Mount Laurel hotel, authorities said. Gutierrez-Valencia showed the drugs to the detective, who got out of the car and signaled fellow officers to make the arrest, authorities said.

Gutierrez-Valencia tried to flee and was shot in the arm as he drove his car toward the officers, authorities said. The two kilograms of meth and a stolen 9-mm handgun were recovered from the car, authorities said.

The next day, authorities raided a house in the New Egypt section of Plumstead Township after an undercover detective arranged to buy two kilograms of black tar heroin for $130,000, authorities said.

The three residents of the house Guadalupe Madrigal-Mejia, 35, Juan Mendez, 47, and Antonio Esqueda, 33, and Elias Corona-Sanchez, 30, of North Hanover, were arrested in the raid. They were indicted separately from Gutierrez-Valencia in multiple charges including first-degree distribution of heroin and second-degree conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

The undercover detective arranged the $130,000 drug buy with Corona-Sanchez and Madrigal-Mejia, authorities said. After they showed the detective the heroin, officers moved in to arrest the men and search the house, authorities said.

Mendez, who is accused of supplying the two kilograms of heroin, was arrested in a vehicle outside the house, authorities said.

Investigators also found cocaine in a bedroom, hall closets and kitchen, along with a digital scale and packaging materials, authorities said.

Madrigal-Mejia and Corona-Sanchez are also charged with selling a half kilogram of crystal meth for $15,000 to an undercover detective on May 2 outside a Route 130 convenience store in Florence.

The five men would be subject to deportation if convicted, after serving any sentence imposed, authorities said. The first-degree charges carry a potential prison term of 20 years.