Federal authorities say they have arrested a key supplier of the type of tainted heroin
that killed as many as 100 people South Jersey, Philadelphia and elsewhere this year. Police and federal agents discovered 300 grams of fentanyl
and nearly a kilogram of heroin in a heroin-processing "mill" in the basement of a Pennsauken house during the summer, authorities said. The arrest was not made public until today.
The 300 grams would have been enough to add to 40,000 doses of heroin.
"That represents half the population of Camden that could have gotten a bag of fentanyl," Gerard McAleer, the Drug
Enforcement Administration special agent in charge for New Jersey, said in a published report. "It was pure fentanyl. It hadn't been diluted."
The suspect, Jaime Castellar, 30, supplied drug dealers in Camden and Philadelphia, the DEA said. He faces federal drug charges.
Although investigators could not confirm that Castellar was the sole source of the heroin that sparked the overdose epidemic, deaths from fentanyl have dropped off significantly since he was arrested.
"There is a cause and effect here," McAleer said. "It's interesting. Things did start to slow down after the seizure."
Investigators discovered the heroin mill after a naked man, yelling to neighbors for help, ran from the rented house on July 21. Workers in heroin mills typically are forced to work in the nude to prevent theft, McAleer said.
The man claimed robbers had invaded the small, two-story house.
"He actually said, 'Help me, but don't call the police,'" McAleer said. "Naturally, they called the cops."
Castellar escaped, but was arrested in October. He remains in federal custody. His attorney did not return a phone call.