Convicted trafficker faces 40-years for supplying New Jersey drug ring

A Jersey City/Asbury Park man who admitted supplying heroin and cocaine to a Jersey Shore drug ring was convicted Wednesday in Federal District Court, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Thomas “Cuzzo” Shannon, 37, is awaiting sentencing on Aug. 30.

Officials say the drug ring (named for Asbury Park natives Robert “True” Britt and Rufus Young or “Equan,” “E-Money” and “Kintock”) known as the Britt-Young DTO, was taken down in a massive sweep by federal and local authorities in March 2014.

They referred to it in code as “Kristine,” when talking on the phone about the trafficked drugs.

More than a kilogram of heroin a week was being moved at the Shore.  Authorities say the shipments (along with cocaine) arrived from California and were taken to Shannon controlled stash houses in Long Branch and Asbury Park from October 2013 to March 2014.

Twenty-one of the 22 defendants involved in the drug ring have since been convicted.

Shannon was charged with conspiracy, possession of the cocaine and heroin with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and engaging in monetary transaction in criminally derived property.

He is subject to a 40-year prison term and $5 million fine, with the gun charge bringing a possible life sentence.

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TRENTON, N.J. – A Jersey City, New Jersey, man was convicted by a federal jury today for his role as a heroin and cocaine supplier to a large-scale drug trafficking organization that operated in Ocean and Monmouth Counties and elsewhere in New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Thomas Shannon, a/k/a “Cuzzo,” 37, was convicted of four counts of an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and more than a kilogram of heroin, one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine, one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property. Shannon was convicted following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court. The jury deliberated for three hours before returning the verdict.

Between March and May 2014, 21 other individuals, including numerous alleged members of the drug trafficking organization to which Shannon supplied narcotics, were charged in two separate criminal complaints with conspiring to distribute heroin and other related offenses. The complaint referred to the drug trafficking organization as the “Britt-Young DTO,” after its leaders, Robert Britt, a/k/a “True,” and Rufus Young, a/k/a “Equan,” a/k/a “E-Money,” a/k/a “Kintock.”  Of the 22 individuals charged, 21 have been convicted to date.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence presented at trial:

Between October 2013 and March 2014, Shannon conspired with others to distribute heroin and cocaine in Ocean and Monmouth counties, including to the Britt-Young DTO. Shannon obtained some of his narcotics from conspirators in California, who shipped packages containing large quantities of heroin and cocaine from California to Shannon in New Jersey. The packages were sent to a residence in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and received by another conspirator, who then gave the packages to Shannon. Shannon then transported the narcotics to stash house locations that he controlled in Asbury Park and Long Branch, New Jersey, where he packaged the heroin and cocaine and prepared it for distribution to other dealers. Shannon packaged some of the heroin in small plastic bags that were “stamped” with brand names or markings to distinguish it from other narcotics sold in or around the Monmouth County area.

To pay for the drug shipments, Shannon and others acting at his direction deposited cash into numerous third-party bank accounts provided by the conspirators in California, who then withdrew the cash at bank branch locations in California.

Shannon used numerous cellular telephones to communicate with his conspirators, including through text messages, and he and his conspirators often spoke in code to disguise the illegal nature of their communications. For example, Shannon and a leader of the Britt-Young DTO referred to cocaine as “Kristine.” Shannon also acquired and possessed firearms in furtherance of the drug trafficking conspiracy, including a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver and a Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. .40 caliber handgun.

The conspiracy count carries a minimum potential penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. The possession of controlled substances count with which Shannon is charged carries a minimum potential penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years in prison, and a $5 million fine. The possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense count carries a minimum potential penalty of five years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, which must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed in connection with the underlying drug trafficking offenses. The engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property count carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 30, 2016.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, Red Bank Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; officers of the Brick Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Riccio: and officers of the Toms River Police Department, under the direction of Chief Mitchell A. Little, with the investigation leading to today’s verdict.

He also thanked special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George P. Belsky; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Cynthia Shoffner; officers of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni; and officers of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Joseph D Coronato. He also thanked the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and the Neptune Township, Asbury Park, Marlboro, and Long Branch police departments for their roles in the case.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Grippo and Brendan Day of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.

Defense Counsel:  Edward Bertucio Esq., Eatontown, New Jersey

About The Author

Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time, Jillian enjoys yoga; working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Follow on Twitter @JillianRis

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