Trenton, NJ (Mercer) Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced Wednesday that a three-month investigation into narcotics distribution in the Trenton area has culminated with the arrest of three individuals and the seizure of approximately $1.1 million of heroin. The total amount of heroin seized was 2,200 bricks (110,000 glassine bags). This is recognized as the largest pre-packaged heroin seizure in Mercer County history. Detectives also seized $50,000 in cocaine during the investigation.
On Monday, December 13, 2021, as part of an ongoing investigation, members of the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force were conducting surveillance of Andrew Coates at his residence located on Bellevue Avenue in Trenton. While conducting surveillance, detectives observed Coates and an individual identified as Carmen Campbell enter a silver Nissan Altima and depart the area. Officers followed the vehicle directly to an Asian supermarket on St. Vincent Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and park in the lot. Officers observed Coates exit the Altima, retrieve a weighted bag from the trunk, and enter an unknown vehicle with the bag. Minutes later, another unknown individual exits another unknown vehicle, retrieves three weighted bags and places them in the trunk of the Altima. Seconds later, Coates exits the unknown vehicle and re-enters the passenger side of the Altima. The Nissan Altima departed the area and surveillance officers followed it directly to the area of Parkside and Parkway avenues in Trenton.
Once in the Trenton area, detectives attempted to conduct a motor vehicle stop of the Altima. While officers were exiting their vehicle, Campbell, who was the driver, attempted to flee. While doing so, Campbell struck a civilian vehicle and a Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office vehicle, causing damage to all three vehicles. While continuing to attempt to flee, the Altima ran over the foot of a MCPO detective and struck his side. Detectives were subsequently able to stop the vehicle, and no injuries were sustained by any officers or civilians. Once the vehicle was stopped, both Coates and Campbell were detained.
MCPO Detective Tom Paglione subsequently utilized his narcotic canine, Indy, to conduct an exterior sniff of the Nissan Altima. As a result of the canine sniff, Indy alerted to the scent of a narcotic odor on the trunk of the vehicle. A search warrant was obtained and a search of the vehicle revealed the 2,200 bricks of heroin. Search warrants were also executed at multiple locations in Trenton. At Coates’ Bellevue Avenue residence, Indy sniffed out a plastic trunk in the basement and a shopping bag containing clothes buried underneath several bags of clothes in the garage. A search of both items revealed 250 grams of cocaine in the plastic trunk and an additional 250 grams of cocaine in the shopping bag in the garage. Officers also located $1,748 in cash, several rounds of various ammunition, and two Sig Sauer gun magazines loaded with 9mm ammunition at the Bellevue Avenue address. Coates’ mother, Bridgett Coates, was located inside of the residence at the time of the search and was taken into custody on a Homeland Security Investigations warrant for several narcotic offense in California.
Andrew Coates, 37, of Trenton, was charged with numerous first-degree narcotic-related offenses and lodged at the Mercer County Correction Center. The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain him pending trial. Campbell, 60, of Trenton, was charged with numerous first-degree narcotic-related offenses, aggravated assault on police and eluding. She was lodged at the Mercer County Correction Center. Bridgett Coates, 54, of Trenton, was charged with numerous first-degree narcotic-related offense and lodged at the Mercer County Correction Center.
According to Prosecutor Onofri, the total street value of the confiscated drugs is $1,150,000. The heroin is valued at approximately $1.1 million and the cocaine is valued at approximately $50,000. The investigation initiated with the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force and received support and resources from:
▪ Drug Enforcement Administration ▪ Federal Bureau of Investigation
▪ Homeland Security Investigations ▪ United States Marshals Service
▪ United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General ▪ New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression Central
▪ Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office
▪ Mercer County Sheriff’s Office
▪ Mercer County Tactical Response Team ▪ Hamilton Police Division
▪ Trenton Police Department