Federal authorities say eight men have been charged for their roles in a drug trafficking organization operating in and around Union County.

U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger's office says the following people are each facing one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances:

  • 54-year-old Lance Baker of Perth Amboy
  • 57-year-old Rooks Crawford of Linden
  • 54-year-old Michael Williams of Roselle
  • 60-year-old Tyrone Gilliam of Elizabeth
  • 38-year-old Lewis Martinez-Berroa of Elizabeth
  • 58-year-old Earl Riley of Elizabeth
  • 48-year-old Derrick Gilliam of Alburtis, PA
  • 37-year-old Abinader Liriano-Balbuena of Bronx, NY

According to officials,

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 Tuesday, authorities executed a series of search warrants across the region and at a location in the Bronx, "law enforcement officials located a 'mill' used to manufacture and package narcotics and recovered approximately 10 kilograms of a substance believed to be fentanyl."

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The count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances carries up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Sellinger credited the numerous law enforcement agencies that were involved in this case, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Secret Service; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office; and multiple local police departments.

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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