The leader of a narcotics trafficking network has been sentenced to life in prison with a mandatory stipulation of parole ineligibility for 25 years, announced Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.

Daryel Rawls, 38, was sentenced by the Honorable Rochelle Gizinski, J.S.C., for being in violation of N.J.S.A.2C:35-3.

Daryel Rawls, 38. (NJ DMV)

Judge Gizinski also imposed a consecutive 10 year term with a 5 year parole disqualifier for Conspiracy to Possess Heroin with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A.2C:35-5a and N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2, Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A.2C:35-5a, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A.2C:35-5a.

The net effect of this sentence is that Rawls must do at least 30 years in state prison before he may even be considered for parole.

Rawls was the target of an extensive wiretap investigation named “Operation Baked Zito.” based on his alias where he was also known as “Z” or “Zito.”

Thousands of intercepted calls led to 25 individuals being charged, including Rawls.

At the time of his arrest, Rawls was in possession of over 1,100 wax folds of heroin as well as a clear bag of cocaine weighing 26 grams.

Rawls failed to appear for his trial and was convicted by a jury of his peers, in absentia, on March 22, 2017.

He remained a fugitive until he was apprehended on drug charges in Milford, Connecticut on December 12, 2018.

After returning to Ocean County, he filed a motion for a new trial which was denied by Judge Gizinski, who then proceeded to sentence Rawls.

Prosecutor Billhimer credited the teamwork of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco and Senior Assistant Prosecutor Robert Cassidy who tried the case on behalf of the State, as well as the members of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, the New Jersey State Police, and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department for their collective assistance in bringing Rawls to justice.

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