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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Benjamin Caturano, a 22-year-old New Brunswick resident, has been arrested, along with three other people. They were charged with participating in a conspiracy to purchase and distribute roughly two kilograms of one of the controlled substances commonly known as “bath salts.”
The drug in question is methylenedioxypyro- valerone, or MDPV. It is a compound intended to mimic the effects of cocaine and amphetamine. MDPV is one of six designer drugs banned under Pamela’s Law, signed into effect by Governor Christie in August 2011 and named for murdered Rutgers student Pamela Schmidt. MPDV is now a Schedule I substance on the Controlled Dangerous Substances list in NJ.
Caturano was arrested Friday, March 15, in a bust led by special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. The agents seized more than $90,000 in cash and two luxury automobiles as part of the investigation, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice.
The investigation began when law enforcement intercepted a package in the mail containing the MDPV, originating from the People’s Republic of China and intended for Old Bridge, NJ.
Officials removed the MDPV from the package and replaced it with similar-looking fake drugs. Later, on March 14, police delivered the package as scheduled, and they watched Caturano and three others allegedly divide up the drugs. The police assert that Caturano and his alleged conspirators intended to distribute the drugs in New York and New Jersey.
After the arrests, according to police, some members of the group admitted to distributing multiple kilograms of the substance over the past year, sometimes selling it at local colleges – including Rutgers University.
Caturano made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Falk in the United States District Court in Newark on Monday, March 18, along with two other alleged co-conspirators.
Two New Jersey men were also alleged to be involved in the conspiracy, Kyle Jobes, 23, of East Brunswick, and Charles Knierim, 24, of Old Bridge. The remaining suspected conspirator is a Long Island resident, Conor Healion, 22, of West Hempstead, NY.