“We received a tip from another law enforcement agency that a large quality of drugs was being held in Jersey City,” he said.
Gajewski, who serves as the Violent Crimes commander overseeing the Major Case Unit, the Narcotics Division, the Street Crimes Unit and other units in the Jersey City Police Department, brought together members of the Street Crimes Unit to develop a strategy for grabbing the drugs and apprehending those to whom the drugs were being shipped.
The drugs, reportedly, were in a truck on its way from Los Angeles to Long Island, and had made a stopover at a Tonnelle Avenue truck depot.
Gajewski said he sat down with Police Lt. Stephen Trowbridge to develop a plan of action, and in the company of a police sergeant from the Street Crimes unit approached the manager of the trucking firm, who until that moment was unaware of the drugs.
“He agreed to cooperate with the investigation,” Gajewski said, withholding the name of the firm in order to possibly use it again in the future.
The package was being shipped from Los Angeles to Long Island, New York and Jersey City was a stop along the route, possibly for a transfer, and the freight was listed as a “photo booth,” police said.
“The company owner showed us the truck and a box inside which contained the drugs,” Gajewski said.
A $1 million bust
The box had 110 bags, each containing one pound of marijuana for an estimated value of $1 million.
Although the shipment was supposed to continue to Long Island, Gajewski decided the drugs would stay in Jersey City.
After consulting Trowbridge, Gajewski convinced the truck depot owner to call the people to whom the shipment was headed, and convinced them to come collect it in Jersey City instead.
“We set up surveillance around the perimeter of the trucking depot and inside,” Gajewski said.
About 4:20 p.m., two men, a father and son – Joseph Turchiano, 75, and Michael Turchiano, 41 – showed up driving a Ryder rental truck.
When they signed for the shipment and drove away, police armed with a search warrant pulled the vehicle over and seized the drugs and placed the men under arrest. The men were charged with possession, possession with intent to distribute, and conspiracy.
Gajewski said there was no violence.
Gajewski, the author of “The Axeman’s Fame,” a book based on a true story about an axe murder, has been involved with a number of key drug arrests and has been involved in seeking to curb gun violence in the city as part of the city’s Operation Ceasefire and other initiatives.
Operation Ceasefire is a program that originated in Chicago and has since spread to other cities, including a few in New Jersey. The aim is to work closely with gunshot victims, and people living in communities with high rates of shootings, to stop people who are committing gun violence and get them off the streets.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.