Drug bust recovers semiautomatic handgun and $3300 in illegal drugs

NEWARK, NJ — As part of an on-going investigation into drug trafficking in Newark’s South Ward, a semiautomatic handgun and more than $3,300 in illegal narcotics were seized Nov. 19 as Essex County sheriff’s detectives arrested two adult men and a male juvenile, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Armando Fontoura said that officers from his department’s Bureau of Narcotics and Tactical Response Team conducted a raid at 835 South 19th St. after receiving information regarding a potential narcotics operation in the area.

“Our detectives were informed that Jerry Lester, 54, of Newark, had been operating illegal narcotics activity at the South 19th Street location,” the sheriff said. “Upon arriving at the residence, our officers proceeded to announce their presence, knock on the door and, after receiving no response, breached entry.”

Once inside, the Tactical Response Team rendered the apartment safe and were immediately met by Lester. Before Lester was detained by the officers, he allegedly attempted to discard a yellow bag out the door of the dwelling.

“One of our officers was able to retrieve the yellow bag from under a crate outside the door and, once recovered, found over 15 grams containing a powdery substance in folders marked with the words ‘Instagram’ and ‘Panda,’ as well as 1.7 grams of a white rocky substance,” Fontoura said. “Based off of our detective’s training in the field of narcotics, he immediately identified the substances as CDS heroin and crack-cocaine.”

While Lester was being taken into custody, he allegedly informed officers that he “had some coke in a brown bag in a cooler in the kitchen.” One member of the Tactical Response Team then located the cooler in the residence’s kitchen, recovered the bag and located 2.4 grams of a white rocky substance later identified as crack-cocaine.

Upon clearing the first floor, detectives proceeded to move up the stairs where they encountered Nasheed Sharp, 26, of Newark, and a juvenile male. It was at this point that detectives began a thorough search of the upstairs.

“As soon as the search began, detectives discovered a black bookbag located on the floor of a bedroom. Inside of the bag, a detective recovered a black Phoenix Arms .22 caliber handgun, a small clear zip-lock bag containing five .22 caliber ball rounds, a small clear sandwich bag containing 1.2 grams of suspected CDS Xanax, and numerous drug paraphernalia,” Fontoura said. “It was at this point that Nasheed Sharp and the juvenile male were advised, read their rights and placed under arrest.”

Lester was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and distribution on or around school property, among other charges. Smith was charged with possession of a weapon while committing a dangerous substance offense, possession of a controlled dangerous substance and conspiracy. The juvenile was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

Lester and Smith were booked and transported to the Essex County Correctional Facility for housing while the juvenile’s family was notified and he was booked and transported to juvenile detention.

These charges are merely accusations; all defendants are presumed innocent unless or until found guilty in a court of law.