Thanks to an investigation known as “Operation Skin Deep,” federal authorities believe they have dismantled an internet cocaine ring, run by two New Jersey nightclub owners. A total of 15 men have been indicted in connection to the operation. In addition to killing a major source of coke and designer drug methylone, the feds have seized $1.2 million and prevented a potential double murder.
All told, 12 men faces charges for their alleged roles in the drug ring between November 2014 and April 2015, which ranged from buying and selling the drugs to delivering and shipping them through the mail.
The investigation started out with the surveillance of White supremacist groups in Atlantic City. While monitoring and setting up undercover cocaine purchases with the Atlantic City Skin Heads, Thomas Bullock, 62, Thomas White, 31, and Benjamin DiPilla, 28, were knocked on separate drug distribution charges.
This arrest prompted the authorities to probe deeper to find out who the plug was. Intel led them to the ringleaders, Christopher Castelluzzo, 31, and Luke Atwell, 34, who pumped coke, methylone, weed and Molly out of their Passaic club, Omni Lounge. In March 2013, the DEA seized more than six kilos of methylone at an East Orange drug mill tied to Castelluzzo and Atwell. In April of that year, ICE seized 2.9 kilos of methylone that Atwell was expecting at a post office in Manville, NJ. The agents replaced the drugs with a dummy package that Atwell picked up and put in a car he was in with Castelluzzo, and they were arrested. Searches of the club owners’ electronic devices uncovered drug negotiations by email dating back to 2010. In a case separate from the current proceedings, Castelluzzo and Atwell were convicted on federal drug conspiracy charges last May.
The charges Castelluzzo and Atwell face are for first degree murder conspiracy. With Eric Rodriguez, 45, and Henry Bracy, 46, the two plotted to murk a former associate and his bodyguard over a money beef. Authorities claim the quartet “took a number of steps in preparation to kill the targeted victims,” but never followed through.
The investigation also led the feds to California truck driver Jose Ruvalcaba, 28 and Shazad Khan, 32. The two were caught exchanging $1.2 million in duct-taped bundles of guap, in a North Bergen parking lot last April. This is said to be “one of the largest cash seizures in state history.”
Also charged (among others) was Aldo Lapaix, 28, who allegedly helped Castelluzo and Atwell package and ship orders.