Drug Overdose Deaths

South Jersey authorities arrested 27 people and seized $93,000 worth of heroin and methamphetamine in Cape May and Cumberland counties as a result of a narcotics investigation, officials announced Wednesday.

SWAT teams carried out 16 search warrants Tuesday at homes in Woodbine and Millville after a two-month investigation into the distribution of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, prescription pills and marijuana.

Accused of leading the drug distribution network are Harold Santiago, 31, of Woodbine; George Williams, 57, of Millville; Tracey Kluska, 44, of Ocean View; and Isiah Fitzpatrick, 28, of Woodbine.

The 27 men and women arrested, who are between 25 and 57 years old, were charged with first-, second-, third- and fourth-degree drug possession and distribution, money laundering, obstruction and firearm possession.

If convicted, they face 18 months to 20 years in state prison for each crime. Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland said a convicted leader of a narcotics trafficking network can face lifetime imprisonment with a 25-year period of parole ineligibility.

In addition to the arrests, SWAT and police seized 13 vehicles, 6,540 bags of suspected heroin worth about $77,000 at street value, six ounces of suspected methamphetamine worth $16,000, two ounces of suspected raw heroin and several pounds of marijuana, $30,000 in cash, two semiautomatic handguns and one shotgun, said officials from the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office.

Homes were also searched in Cape May Court House, Wildwood, Ocean View and the Del Haven section of Middle Township, according to county prosecutors.

The four suspected leaders were sent to either Cape May or Cumberland county jails pending court proceedings. Five other people arrested Tuesday were also placed in jail. All others were released on summonses.

Additional residential and vehicle search warrants “may be executed as a result of this investigation,” according to a news release from the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, and more people may be arrested and charged.

Sutherland said anyone with information related to the narcotics distribution investigation can call the Cape May Prosecutor’s Office at 609-465-1135 or submit tips anonymously through cmcsheriff.net or Cape May County Crime Stoppers at 609-465-2800.

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Contact: 609-272-7022 NLeonard@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressNLeonard

Previously interned and reported for Boston.com, The Asbury Park Press, The Boston Globe

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