Crack Cocaine Dealers Set Up Shop Inside NJ Senior Community, Police Say

“I think the dealers find a false sense of security in those neighborhoods. Nobody’s really going to give them a hard time.”

What to Know

  • Five people are accused of using a senior living facility in Berkeley Township, New Jersey as a front to sell crack cocaine.
  • Police made the bust at the Holiday City South Senior Community after hearing from concerned residents.
  • Taquan Pearson, 37, Nicole Vorhees, 48, Lynsay Leitner, 39, Edwin Nieves, 42, and Michelle Lanzieri, 52, were all arrested inside a home.

Five people are accused of using a New Jersey senior living community as a front to sell drugs.

On Monday around 9:45 p.m., police and a SWAT team executed a search warrant at a home inside the Holiday City South Senior Community on Wojtyla Court in Berkeley Township, New Jersey. Police found a large amount of crack cocaine as well as drug paraphernalia and cash, investigators said. 

Taquan Pearson, 37, Nicole Vorhees, 48, Lynsay Leitner, 39, Edwin Nieves, 42, and Michelle Lanzieri, 52, were all arrested inside the home. Pearson is charged with possession of cocaine and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. The other four suspects are all charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

Investigators said the home the suspects operated in was a major supplier of narcotics throughout Berkeley Township and neighboring towns. They also told NBC10 drug dealers often set up shop inside senior communities.

“It is a trend that we’re seeing,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said. “I think the dealers find a false sense of security in those neighborhoods. Nobody’s really going to give them a hard time.”

Francesca Novick, a neighbor, told NBC10 she noticed an unusual amount of activity at the home prior to the arrests.

“It’s very obvious when cars come in and out that don’t belong here,” she said. “You move to a 55 and older community, you don’t expect to have this happening around your house.”

Officials said concerns from residents led to the investigation and eventual bust. They urge people to speak up and keep their eyes open.

“Stay vigilant,” Billhimer said. “Make sure you look out your windows. Make sure you check on your neighbors. And make sure you know who’s living there.”

Pearson and Nieves were remanded to the Ocean County Jail. Lanzieri, Vorhees and Leitner were processed and later released on a summons.

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