'Operation Stone Wall': 12 charged in alleged narcotics, gun trafficking ring in New Jersey

Twelve men have been arrested in connection with an alleged narcotics and gun trafficking ring in Camden County, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Monday.

The criminal network was responsible for illegally trafficking untraceable assault rifles known as "ghost guns" that were assembled from kits purchased online and dealing cocaine, according to authorities.

Four men are charged with conspiring to sell six untraceable AR-15 assault rifles. The charges are the first ever filed in a ghost gun trafficking case under a new law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in November 2018 that made it a crime to buy, manufacture, possess or sell ghost guns in New Jersey.

Ghost guns are not registered and do not have serial numbers, making them difficult to trace and making it harder for law enforcement to solve gun crimes. A total of 13 guns were recovered in the investigation, including the six ghost gun AR-15 assault rifles. Parts for two more AR-15 ghost guns also were seized.

The arrests, made from March 8 to March 14, were the result of "Operation Stone Wall," a year-long, multi-agency investigation. Ten men are charged with distributing narcotics, primarily cocaine, including two defendants who also are charged with illegal gun trafficking. The two remaining defendants are charged solely in connection with the illegal gun trafficking.

Investigators say the suspects were captured discussing a gun sale that would be delayed over having to work around the new criminal law, which would force them to ship guns to Pennsylvania as opposed to New Jersey.

On March 13, authorities intercepted parts for two more assault rifles allegedly ordered by two of the suspects for shipment to Bensalem.

"This case starkly illustrates why ghost guns are so dangerous, because drug dealers and other criminals can easily acquire them and traffic them into our communities, where they will be virtually untraceable if used in a crime," said Grewal.

The investigation initially focused on the alleged cocaine distribution activities of Lamont White, his son, Tyriek Bradford, and their associate, John Rayford, all of Lindenwold. Bradford is also charged with distributing heroin.

The investigation expanded to include other suspects allegedly involved in distributing cocaine, including Christopher Stoner of Lindenwold, who allegedly supplied cocaine to White, and the following associates from whom Stoner allegedly obtained cocaine: Nicholas Cilien, Bryheem Belcher, Michael Smith, Fabian Sapp, Devon Davis, and Monroe Gadson.

As the investigation expanded, detectives learned that Stoner allegedly was involved in illegal sales of guns, including ghost guns. During the investigation, Stoner and Cilien allegedly conspired with two other men - Paul Corum and Marc Freeman, both of Lindenwold - to sell ghost guns.

Corum was ordered detained until trial at a detention hearing on Friday, March 15. Stoner, Cilien, Freeman and Gadson are being held in jail pending detention hearings. Belcher, Smith, Sapp and Rayford were released with conditions following detention hearings. White is incarcerated in Northern State Prison on a prior conviction. Bradford was not located during the arrests on March 8 and was sought as a fugitive until his arrest on March 14. He is jailed pending a detention hearing.