MAYS LANDING — An Egg Harbor Township man charged with leading a drug ring out of an Atlantic City hotel, where an alligator was recovered, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday.
Jamal Campos, 26, who pleaded guilty in May to strict liability drug-induced death and acting as the leader of a narcotics trafficking network, asked first to withdraw his plea, then for leniency, before he was sentenced by Judge Bernard E. DeLury Jr.
“Mr. Campos denies that he ever had anybody working for him selling drugs and was high at the time of the plea, and therefore did not comprehend what he was doing,” said his attorney, John Maher. “He also asserts that if he were a kingpin, he would not be sleeping in a dirty hotel.”
Campos was arrested in August 2017 at the Bayview Inn & Suites on Albany Avenue after an investigation into the April 22, 2016, overdose death of Adam O’Gara, 42, who died from a lethal mix of heroin and fentanyl.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin and morphine.
During a search of the motel’s 80 rooms, authorities seized cash, narcotics and Airsoft guns. A 3-foot-long alligator also was found in the motel’s swimming pool.
Campos was first scheduled to be sentenced in September, but all of his court appearances had been delayed or postponed while he tried to withdraw his plea and take his case to trail.
Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey said O’Gara’s family has “endured countless phone calls from our victim witness advocate” to come to court for Campos’ sentencing, only to be told it wouldn’t happen.
“We’re actually at the point where they just stopped showing their interest in coming,” McKelvey said, looking at the empty courtroom.
DeLury denied Campos’ request to withdraw his plea, adding he was the judge who accepted it, and asked at the time whether Campos was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If Campos didn’t have control of his faculties, DeLury explained, he wouldn’t have taken the plea. He added the state’s offer was a “very favorable plea recommendation.”
Campos, who yawned several times during the appearance, decided not to speak before he was sentenced. However, his mother, Gail Campos, did.
“I want to apologize,” Gail Campos said, her voice shaking and tears rolling down her face. “Jamal is my first-born son, and I didn’t raise him to make all the mistakes that he made.”
Campos was sentenced to 10 years in prison on the drug-indicted death charge and 20 years on the leading-a-narcotics-network charge, which will be served concurrently, with 8½ years of parole ineligibility.
He is currently housed in the Atlantic County jail.