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Two Top-Level Managers Admit Roles In Camden Drug Trafficking Organization

CAMDEN, N.J. – Two top-level managers in a drug-trafficking organization today admitted their roles in distributing significant amounts of illegal drugs in Camden, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Ronnie Lopez, 45, of Pennsauken, New Jersey, and Nelson Salcedo, 41, of Camden, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb in Camden federal court to their roles in managing a drug trafficking conspiracy that was based on the 500 block of Pine Street in Camden. Lopez pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine and fentanyl. Salcedo pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin, crack cocaine and cocaine. Lopez and Salcedo are the first of 19 defendants who were charged in this case in November 2018 to plead guilty. Charges against the other defendants remain pending.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

An investigation led by the FBI used surveillance tactics, confidential informants, consensual recordings, over 40 controlled drug purchases, record checks, a GPS vehicle tracker, and several court-authorized wiretaps to uncover the operations of the Camden drug-trafficking organization.

Lopez occupied the highest position in the conspiracy, and obtained bulk quantities of illegal drugs for ultimate sale to customers. The organization also had other top-level managers and distributors, such as Salcedo, who obtained drugs from Lopez and other suppliers and prepared and packaged the drugs for distribution downstream. At their plea hearings, both Lopez and Salcedo admitted to distributing thousands of kilograms of illegal drugs in Camden.

The counts to which Lopez and Salcedo pleaded guilty carry a mandatory penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI’s South Jersey Violent Offender and Gang Task Force, South Jersey Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Harpster; the Camden County Police Department, under the direction of Chief J. Scott Thomson; the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo; the Camden County Sherriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Gilbert L. Wilson; the Cherry Hill Police Department, under the direction of Chief William P. Monaghan; and the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas. He also thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Department of Homeland Security for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara A. Aliabadi and Patrick C. Askin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.

The charges and allegations against the other defendants are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defense counsel:
Lopez: Stanley O. King Esq., Woodbury, New Jersey
Salcedo: Rocco C. Cipparone Jr. Esq., Haddon Heights, New Jersey

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