A large-scale marijuana and THC distribution network, one that secretly converted popular candies into drug-laced edibles, was dismantled by authorities following a year-long investigation, Monmouth County Prosecutor (MCPO) Christopher Gramiccioni has announced. Officials seized 1,100 pounds of suspected marijuana, plus approximately 21,000 candy packages infused with suspected THC, the substance responsible for creating a marijuana high.
Calling it one of the state’s largest busts ever of THC/marijuana edibles, the prosecutor’s office said the takedown resulted in charges against 24 men and women. Dubbed “Operation on the Ropes,” the bust culminated with the execution of search warrants in Monmouth, Ocean and Bergen counties.
“The counterfeit candy looks nearly identical to what anyone could buy at any convenience store or supermarket,” Gramiccioni told reporters. “We’ve seen a widespread rise in the production and distribution of such black market edibles that copy and misappropriate the appearance and packaging of real, legitimate candy.”
Allegedly, network operators would purchase large amounts of regular candy from wholesalers, open the packages, then spray the candy with a concentrated formula of THC distillate. “Once the THC dried on the candy, it was repackaged as an illegal marijuana edibles product for distribution across New Jersey,” Gramiccioni said.
Illegal treats seized during the investigation include “Stoner Patch” edibles, with packaging similar to that of Sour Patch Kids, and Nerd Ropes lined with THC-infused candies, among others.
The operation utilized a warehouse on Park Avenue in Manalpan and a hangar at Monmouth Executive Airport in Wall for production and storage of the illegal goods, the prosecutor’s office said.
Officials also seized over 6,000 flavored THC vape cartridges, along with more than $1 million cash, more than $10 million in assets and 21 high-end exotic vehicles, the office said.
It’s the MCPO’s belief that the illegal enterprise was running for years preceding their investigation. “I haven’t seen a case like this in my 33-year career,” said Monmouth County Chief of Detectives John McCabe.
Dylon Addvensky, 27, of Freehold Borough, has been charged as the leader of the network, which allegedly also had a presence in New York and California. As of late Tuesday, one California man remains at large and is considered a fugitive.
The list of New Jersey defendants includes residents of Colts Neck, Freehold Township and Borough, Lodi, Jackson, Manalapan, Howell, Riverdale, Point Pleasant Beach, Voorhees, Egg Harbor Township, Greenwich, and Brick. All defendants have been released on bail conditions, pending resolution of the charges filed against them, Gramiccioni said.