Garden Crime

Illegal Immigrant Fruit Farm Workers Facing Felony Charges On Cocaine, and Meth Bust

HAMMONTON — Authorities arrested three employees of a local farm and recovered drugs, cash and a handgun Thursday, the Atlantic County prosecutor announced Friday.

The investigation into the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine was dubbed Operation Crystal Ball, Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said in a statement.

The Atlantic County Regional SWAT Team executed search warrants at Columbia Fruit Farms on Middle Road and another location on Walnut Street, Tyner said.

Columbia Fruit Farms could not be reached by phone.

 Authorities recovered one handgun, two vehicles, about $25,000 in cash, 20 ounces of cocaine with a street value of about $28,000 and 11 ounces of methamphetamine with a street value of about $17,600, Tyner said.

Vincent Lopez-Hernandez, 24, is charged with attempt to distribute a controlled dangerous substance and possession of cocaine.

Juvenal Duran-Almanza, 29, is charged with distribution and possession of cocaine, two counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, one count of possession and two counts of distribution of crystal methamphetamine, possession of a firearm without a permit to carry, possession of a firearm during the commission of a CDS offense and possession of U.S. currency under $75,000 derived from distribution of CDS.

Moises Duran-Almanza, 38, is charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute crystal methamphetamine, two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine, possession of a firearm without a permit, possession of a firearm without a permit while in possession of CDS, possession of U.S. currency under $75,000 derived from the distribution of CDS, and conspiracy to distribute crystal methamphetamine and cocaine.

All three defendants were sent to the Atlantic County jail pending detention hearings, Tyner said.

Immigration detainers were issued on Moises Duran-Almanza and Lopez-Hernandez due to their illegal immigration status, Tyner said.

The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Hammonton Police Department, Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office and the Stockton University Police Department collaborated on the investigation, Tyner said.

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