Hickey said the nine men and five women had begun operating a methamphetamine lab within the last few weeks and were trying to fill the void left by the drug arrests in June of numerous alleged members of the crime family reputedly headed by Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo. He said he did not know whether the suspects were connected to Scarfo.
The drug lab was believed to have been at 1415 Jackson St. in Philadelphia, a building owned by Thomas Pasha, but when police arrived, equipment had been moved, Hickey said. However, much of the equipment was stored by members of the alleged drug ring and was recovered by police at a Gloucester Township residence, he said.
The lab was capable of producing 20 pounds of methamphetamine per day, worth about $500,000, Hickey said. The lab, while not operating regularly, had apparently gone through a test run, Hickey said.
Three of the 14 arrested are the first to be charged, under a new law in New Jersey, with being a leader of a drug-trafficking network. The charge carries a term of life imprisonment. If convicted, the three would serve a minimum of 25 years in prison before being eligible for parole.
The three are Thomas Pasha, 34, of the 2500 block of South 20th Street, South Philadelphia; Fred Ricci, 44, of the 1100 block of Fries Mill Road, Turnersville, and Gary Ambrose, 33, also known as Gary Brown, of the Country Place Apartment Complex, Turnersville. They are also charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. Ambrose also was charged with possession of two pounds of methamphetamine.
Also arrested and charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine were: Patricia Eckert, 36, and Nick Caster, 48, both of the 800 block of Cantrell Street, South Philadelphia; Michael O'Hara, 24, of the first block of Lower Lake Drive, Blackwood, and James Chamberlin, 28, of Corbin Avenue, Franklin Township, N.J.
Also arrested under the same charges were the following Gloucester Township residents: Marge Holshue, 27, of the 1700 block of Hollywood Avenue; John Sebastiana, 20, and his sister Dawn Sebastiana, 23, both of the 1600 block of Cedar Avenue; Cecilia Trimarco, 30, of the 1700 block of Hollywood Avenue, and Theresa Ledrew, 38, of the 40 block of Girard Avenue.
Joseph Aubry, 24, of the 1600 block of South 28th Street, South Philadelphia, was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana. O'Hara and Ambrose also were charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
Gary D. Lloyd, 32, of the 190 block of Harding Highway, Franklin Township, was charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine.
Because the investigation originated in Gloucester County and warrants were issued from Woodbury, the 14 were being held in the Gloucester County Jail yesterday. Three of the fourteen - Chamberlin, Trimarco and Aubry - were released after paying 10 percent of $25,000 bail each late yesterday.
Pasha and Ricci were being held after failing to post $500,000 cash bail and Ambrose after failing to post $600,000 cash bail. The others were being held after not making $25,000 bail.