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Verona Resident, Two Others, Arrested In Cocaine Bust

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Ara Manookian
Ara Manookian
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that three people were arrested after a two month investigation led by the Essex County Narcotics Task Force, which includes detectives from the New Jersey State Police, the Newark Police Department and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office. Prosecutor’s detectives had developed information that narcotics, specifically cocaine, was being distributed to purchasers in suburban Essex County, namely Verona and Montclair. During the course of the investigation, the Prosecutor’s Narcotics Task Force was also assisted by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office.

The initial information, along with the ensuing investigation, led detectives to simultaneously execute search warrants this morning at locations in Verona, Montclair and Newark. Task Force detectives arrested Ara Manookian, age 43, of Verona, Kyle J. McTeer, age 35, of Montclair and Robert Perez, age 33, of Newark. Manookian was arrested on Bloomfield Avenue in Verona, McTeer was arrested at his residence in Montclair and Perez was arrested at his residence in Newark. Manookian is charged with multiple counts of distribution of cocaine, distribution within 1000 feet of a school and conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws. McTeer has been charged with two counts of distribution of cocaine, one count of distribution within 1000 feet of a school, one count of distribution within 500 feet of public property and conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws. Perez has been charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws. During the course of the investigation, detectives seized more than 200 grams of cocaine. The seized cocaine has a street value in excess of $10,000.

Acting Prosecutor Murray commended the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office for their valuable assistance in this investigation and also commended the work of the detectives from the agencies that participate in the county-wide task force. Acting Prosecutor Murray also praised the efforts of the detectives and assistant prosecutors from her office who are assigned to the task force.

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All three suspects have been lodged in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark; according to Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas S. Fennelly. Bail has been set at $225,000 for Manookian and $50,000 each for McTeer and Perez, according to Fennelly, who added that the investigation is continuing and additional charges are possible.

The charges against these defendants are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent at this time.

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