Collingswood residents Kyle J. Cerone, 21, Michael R. Marengo, Jr., 26, and Anthony Calabrese, 26, were among 142 patrons of Camden City open-air drug markets arrested in “Operation Padlock,” reported the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office in a press release Monday.
All three were charged with loitering for the purposes of obtaining a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), a disorderly persons offense under New Jersey law.
Operation Padlock is described by the prosecutor’s office as an initiative that coordinates “police action with public works and community organizations to eliminate the drug trade in a targeted area.”
Authorities say the policing strategy has paid dividends, leading to more than 250 arrests on charges ranging from drug distribution to municipal summonses, the confiscation of $16,000 in cash and $20,000 in narcotics, the towing of nearly 70 vehicles, and the closure of a Chinese restaurant for health code violations.
More importantly, the statement reported, Operation Padlock helped nab four individuals accused of distributing PCP, the powerful hallucinogen ingredient in “wet,” a drug that has been a factor in a pair of recent and violent child murders in the city.
“In addition to the PCP crisis, Padlock's efforts are an attempt to establish safe corridors for our communities,” police Chief Scott Thomson said in a statement issued with the announcement. “It’s critical to create a city where children can feel safe walking to and from school.”
Tipsters are invited to contact the Citizens Crime Commission at 215-546-TIPS (546-8477). Two individuals have been paid $500 for their help in locating the PCP dealers, the prosecutor’s office reports.