“OPERATION CHECKMATE” DEFENDANT PLEADS GUILTY TO POSSESSION OF COCAINE WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 23, 2022, Andrew Contaldi, 47, of Brick Township, pled guilty before the Honorable Lisa A. Puglisi, J.S.C., to Possession of Cocaine in an Amount Greater than Five Ounces with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(1). At the time of his sentencing on August 12, 2022, the State will be recommending a term of ten years New Jersey State Prison.
“Operation Checkmate” was a four-month-long cooperative, multi-jurisdictional investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, United States Drug Enforcement Administration – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Group 5, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, and New Jersey State Police – Trafficking Central Unit, in concert with many other state, county, and local law enforcement agencies. “The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force managed and directed three simultaneous multi-agency investigations into high level cocaine distribution in Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex Counties, as well as New York City. During the course of these investigations, approximately 50 additional law enforcement personnel were assigned to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force on a full-time basis. Multiple agencies – both within and outside of Ocean County – assisted in every aspect of all three investigations. The investigations, identified as “Operation Checkmate,” began in July 2021 and concluded in October of 2021,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.
The three cocaine networks were responsible for the import of more than three kilograms of cocaine per week into the Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex County areas. Through sophisticated surveillance methods and undercover operatives, “Operation Checkmate” was successful in disrupting and dismantling illicit controlled dangerous substance (CDS) distribution activities in these three counties, as well as New York City. On October 26, 2021, “Operation Checkmate” closed with the apprehension of 24 individuals for various offenses involving distribution of controlled dangerous substances. Additionally, 24 search warrants were executed resulting in the seizure of more than four kilograms of cocaine, over 15 pounds of marijuana, in excess of $650,000 in United States currency, seven firearms (three handguns, three “ghost guns,” and one pistol grip shotgun), ten vehicles, and additional illegal narcotics.
On October 26, 2021, Detectives executed a court authorized search warrant on Contaldi’s residence in Brick Township. As a result of the warrant, Detectives seized approximately 397 grams of cocaine and $19,500 from Contaldi’s residence. Contaldi was arrested at the residence and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since that date.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Burke who is handling the case on behalf of the State and also recognizes the following agencies for their collaborative assistance and cooperation with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force in connection with this investigation and plea agreement with this defendant: Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit, Ocean County Regional SWAT Team, United States Drug Enforcement Administration – HIDTA Group 5, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, New Jersey State Police – Trafficking Central Unit, New Jersey State Police Teams Unit, New Jersey Air National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Unit, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force, Matawan Borough Police Department, Matawan Borough Police Department K-9 Unit, Keyport Borough Police Department, Manalapan Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Field Services Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, Barnegat Township Police Department, Brick Township Police Department Street Crimes Unit, Brick Township Police Department Special Response Team, Brick Township Police Department K-9 Unit, Beachwood Borough Police Department, Berkeley Township Police Department, Jackson Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Drug Enforcement Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team, Lakewood Township Police Department K-9 Unit, Manchester Township Police Department Special Enforcement Team, Ocean Township Police Department (Waretown), Point Pleasant Borough Police Department, South Toms River Police Department, Stafford Township Police Department, Toms River Township Police Department Special Enforcement Unit, Toms River Township Police Department Emergency Services Unit, Toms River Township Police K-9 Unit, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, Aberdeen Township Police Department, Asbury Park Police Department, Hazlet Township Police Department, Hazlet Township Police Department K-9 Unit, Keansburg Borough Police Department, Marlboro Township Police Department, Middletown Township Police Department, Sea Bright Borough Police Department, Old Bridge Township Police Department – Bureau of Narcotics, Union Beach Borough Police Department, Union Beach Borough Police Department K-9 Unit, New York City Police Department – 50th Precinct Field Intelligence Office and the City of New York Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor.