1 Lakewood, 2 Toms River Men Charged Over Cocaine Distribution

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force collaborated with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas-Monmouth/Ocean Post of Duty (HIDTA/MOPOD) Group 5, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Street Crimes Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department K-9 Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Toms River Township Police Department Special Enforcement Unit, to conduct an investigation into the distribution of cocaine in the Ocean County area.

This cooperative, multi-agency investigation identified three residences – two in Lakewood and one in Toms River – as being utilized by Ivan Contreras-Cruz, 41, of Toms River, Alberto Vasquez-Ventura, 27, of Lakewood, and Natalia Mihok, 49, of Toms River, to store and distribute illegal narcotics.

On September 22, 2022, Detectives from the aforementioned law enforcement agencies established stationary and mobile surveillance on the residence in Toms River as well as the two residences in Lakewood. Law enforcement maintained surveillance on Contreras-Cruz and Vasquez-Ventura as they left one of the Lakewood residences in separate vehicles. The Lakewood Township Police Department effectuated separate motor vehicle stops on both vehicles; Contreras-Cruz and Vasquez-Ventura were both detained and placed under arrest without incident.

Detectives subsequently executed court-authorized search warrants on the Toms River residence and both Lakewood residences. In furtherance of the investigation and execution of the search warrants, law enforcement seized approximately 100 grams of Cocaine and nearly $18,000 in United States Currency. Mihok was taken into custody at the Toms River residence.

Contreras-Cruz was charged with Distribution of more than One-Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Possession of more than One-Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Conspiracy to Distribute more than One-Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2a; and Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C: 21-25a. Contreras-Cruz was transported to the Ocean County Jail and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.

Vasquez-Ventura was charged with two counts of Conspiracy to Distribute more than One-Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); two counts of Distribution of less than One-Half Ounce of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); two counts of Possession of less than One-Half Ounce of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); and Conspiracy to Commit Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S.A 2C:21-25a. Vasquez-Ventura is being detained in the Ocean County Jail pending trial.

Mihok was charged with Possession of more than One-Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Conspiracy to Distribute more than One-Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2a; and Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-25a. Mihok was transported to the Ocean County Jail and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit, United States Drug Enforcement Administration – HIDTA/MOPOD Group 5, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Street Crimes Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department K-9 Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, Toms River Township Police Department Special Enforcement Unit, Toms River Township Police Department Emergency Services Unit, Toms River Township Police Department K-9 Unit, Jackson Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, for their combined and collective efforts in connection with this investigation.

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