Newark, NJ—The FBI, in conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) have charged 26 individuals with a laundry list of crimes including narcotics and firearms trafficking, money laundering, interstate transportation of stolen property, and criminal conspiracy. Four of the subjects are presently fugitives. This is the culmination of a joint operation between the federal agencies that began in late 2003 with targets in Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States.
The coordinated arrests of 17 of the 26 defendants occurred over a period of five days in various cites throughout the New Jersey – New York area. Arrests in New Jersey included the cities of Paterson, Lodi, Clifton, and Wayne. Arrests were also made in Brooklyn, and Staten Island, New York. The arrests resulted in the seizure of large quantities of ecstasy, oxycodone and heroin (of the Afghan variety), and crystal methamphetamine as well in excess of $500,000 in cash and property, to include two airplanes used for the smuggling of illegal drugs and contraband, and two vehicles including a Bentley.
Code named “Black Eagle”, this four year joint investigation targeted several loosely connected Balkan Criminal Enterprises operating throughout New Jersey, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Canada, and the Netherlands. With the assistance of ICE and the ATF, the FBI was able to infiltrate the criminal enterprise and purchase over 30,000 ecstasy pills, 2 ½ kilograms of heroin, a 9 mm handgun, two assault style weapons, and stolen jewelry. Also negotiated were money laundering transactions and the importation of large amounts of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, oxycodone, anabolic steroids, over a million pills of ecstasy, and counterfeit sneakers—all from Canada, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Turkey, and Serbia. These negotiations were held in various meetings in various New Jersey cities including Paterson, Clifton, Elmwood Park, Buena, and Atlantic City. Negotiations also occurred in New York, Chicago, Toronto, Miami, and Hartford, Connecticut. In some cases, the subjects bargained for trading one form of contraband for another. The criminal complaint alleges that the oxycodone originated from a pharmacy in Canada owned by an associate of the criminal enterprise.
In a meeting in February of 2009, two of the subjects, Paul Robinson and Louis Luyten, bragged that they had smuggled drugs into the United States in the past and were looking to work for Colombian drug importers. In this meeting, Robinson and Luyten agreed to transport ten kilograms of cocaine from an airport in Florida to an airport in New Jersey for a flat fee of $15,000. Subsequently, both subjects conspired to deliver 50 to 100 kilograms of cocaine from a New Jersey airport to an airport in Canada.
“This case vividly illustrates how crime has become global,” said Weysan Dun, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI’s Newark Field Office. “Although the individuals recently arrested conducted their criminal activity in a variety of cities and towns throughout New Jersey, they all had associations and connections overseas. These criminals had links to criminal associates in seven countries—Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States. These criminals in New Jersey were networked around the world. The good news is that Federal law enforcement networks also span the world and our networks are better than the criminals*’ networks.”
The following 17 defendants were arrested:
Peter Manna, age 29, of Paterson, New Jersey
Pablo Almanzar, age 30, of Paterson, New Jersey
Harjrudin Pejcinovic, age 39, of Brooklyn, New York
Adis Radoncic, age 30, of Brooklyn, New York
Lou Degidio, age 38, of Brooklyn, New York
Eugene Degidio, age 44, of Brooklyn, New York
Paul Robinson, age 61, of Glastonbury, Connecticut
Louis Luyton, age 71, of Glastonbury, Connecticut
Ervis Gjoni, age 23, of Staten Island, New York
Galitiano Gjoni, of Staten Island, New York
Sviatlana Aheyeva, age 24, of Clifton, New Jersey
Minir Rizvani, age 31, of Wayne, New Jersey
Mile Petkovski, age 49, of Lodi, New Jersey
Jason Patrick, age 30, of Canada (who was located and arrested in Manhattan, New York)
Perparim Billa, age 38, of Ridgewood, New York
Abdul Al-Houssaine, age 42, of Brooklyn, New York
Mirsad Kolasinac, age 36, of Hackensack, New Jersey
Four defendants who were already in custody on unrelated charges at the time of these have been charged in this matter, but not yet arrested:
Alban Tase, age 34, of Chicago, Illinois
Gejsi Siko, age 29, of Chicago, Illinois
Gentian Naci, age 33, of Chicago, Illinois
Christopher Curanovic, age 28, of Brooklyn, New York
Five are charged, but not yet in custody:
Roden Kote, age 32, of Philadelphia, currently in Albania and about to surrender
Rasim Corhamzic, age 42, of Canada
Three are fugitives:
Myfit Dika, age 44, of Wycoff, New Jersey
Kujtim Lika, age 44, of Little Falls, New Jersey
Gazmir Gjoka, age 55, of Yardville, New Jersey—believed to be outside the United States
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. Despite this accusation, every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The FBI considers this matter to be an active, ongoing investigation.
Special Agent in Charge Weysan Dun would like to emphasize that the success in this investigation would not be possible without the cooperation and assistance of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, DEA offices in Canada and Amsterdam, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Dutch Law Enforcement authorities, and the various municipal law enforcement agencies who provided support in this matter. “This is another example of each agency putting its best foot forward in the interest of public safety,” said Matthew Horace, Special Agent In Charge of the ATF’s Newark Field Division. “I am proud of the relationship that I share with SAC Dun and the men and women of the FBI Newark Field Division.” William J. Hayes, acting Special Agent In Charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations in Newark adds, “Today, as a result of an outstanding multi-agency investigation, we have dealt these international criminals a severe blow. Would be smugglers must understand that ICE will not tolerate nor allow our borders to be used as an opportunity for them to profit from their illicit activities.” Mr. Dun also recognizes members of the various federal agencies in this case who operate in the New York, Philadelphia, Miami, and Chicago field divisions, as well as outside the United States.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, New Jersey under the direction of Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Kujtim Lika, Myfit Dika, or Gazmir Gjoka should call the FBI Newark office at (973) 792-3000.