Guttenberg resident Miguel Capellan, 28, was arrested on Thursday, Sept. 13 by the State Police Drug Trafficking North Unit in collaboration with the Guttenberg police, who began the investigation. Officials said he had his 4-year-old son with him in the car when he was arrested.
According to Sgt. Juan Barrera of Guttenberg Police, Capellan was allegedly distributing narcotics throughout Hudson County.
“We’ve developed good relationships with the departments that are responsible for these types of major crimes,” said Mayor Gerald Drasheff.
“This was an ongoing cooperative investigation with Guttenberg PD,” said Lt. Stephen Jones.
Sgt. Juan Barrera and Lead Investigator Shaundell Barker were in charge of the investigation that according to Barrera, began in August.
Investigation Drasheff said an investigation of Capellan began after an alleged local street buy. Two weeks into the investigation, Guttenberg police realized the level of narcotics that he was allegedly distributing and contacted State Police Narcotics North Unit.
“That’s when we realized he’s not a small level dealer; he’s [allegedly] a high level dealer, basically a wholesale dealer,” said Sgt. Barrera.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 18, Barrera said that Capellan allegedly distributed to all parts of Hudson County.
“When you hear about an arrest like this, it just highlights what a really professional police department we have.” – Mayor Gerald Drasheff
According to Jones, police seized nearly $350,000 in cash. A small amount was found in Capellan’s home and the remaining 95 percent was found in his garage. Police also confiscated multiple stun guns, a body armor vest, hollow point ammunition, two semiautomatic handguns, one pound of marijuana allegedly found in his vehicle, another pound allegedly found at the garage he rented in Union City, along with a smaller amount allegedly at his residence in the Galaxy Towers. Three of his vehicles were also impounded: An Infinity G35, a Ford Explorer, and a Ford Mustang.
“When you hear about an arrest like this, it just highlights what a really professional police department we have,” said Drasheff during the press conference.
The money is alleged to be from criminal activity. Barrera said this was the biggest money seizure in Guttenberg history.
Capellan was charged with money laundering, child endangerment, distribution, possession of marijuana and paraphernalia, and distributing within 1,000 feet of a school.
His first court appearance was on Friday, Sept. 14 in Central Judicial Processing, in Jersey City. His bail has been set at $75,000 by Judge Richard Nieto, who ordered that whoever posts bail for Capellan should be checked to ensure he/she is not involved in criminal activity.
He also faces weapon possession charges for the two semiautomatic guns that were found along with the hollow point ammunition.
“It’s about cleaning up the streets,” said Officer Shaundell Barker.
Protecting law enforcement
Drasheff said at the press conference that to protect police officers, he prefers not to know about investigations.
“If the police have a confidential investigation going on, I really don’t want to know about it, because the less people know about it, the less chance of it becoming public,” he said.
Drasheff said that some of the assets that were confiscated may be used by the town of Guttenberg.
“Those type of funds are earmarked for law intensive purposes,” said Drasheff. “We have some things we’d like to do around here in terms of equipment, updating our police desk. This gives us the resources to do that without imposing on the taxpayers.”
The police desk that Drasheff was referring to is 30 to 40 years old.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org