Franklin, NJ

Franklin Man Charged with Distributing Fentanyl Linked to Four Overdose Deaths in 2022

Desiree Haros
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Franklin, NJ - Mauricio Gutierrez, a 50-year-old Franklin resident, has been charged with federal offenses related to the distribution of fentanyl, which resulted in four tragic overdose deaths in 2022. The charges, which include two counts of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death and one count of distributing cocaine, were filed against Gutierrez in connection with a series of overdose incidents that occurred on June 24, 2022, in North Brunswick and Franklin.

Each of the charges of drug distribution resulting in death carries a maximum potential penalty of life imprisonment, along with a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison. Additionally, the charge of distributing controlled substances carries a maximum penalty of 20 years behind bars. All three charges are also associated with fines of up to $1 million.

The incidents that led to these charges unfolded on June 24, 2022, when three men were discovered unresponsive in a black Jeep parked at a North Brunswick bar. Bystanders were attempting to resuscitate them when law enforcement arrived at the scene. Despite administering Narcan in an effort to revive the victims, two of them were pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, while the third succumbed to the overdose two days later.

On the same day, authorities found an unconscious man slumped over the wheel of his vehicle in a Franklin shopping center. Despite medical personnel's best efforts, the man was declared dead at the scene. Traces of fentanyl were subsequently discovered in both the North Brunswick and Franklin vehicles, leading investigators to establish a connection between Gutierrez and the overdoses through text messages sent to three of the victims.

Autopsies conducted on all four individuals confirmed that their cause of death was fentanyl overdose.

In August and September, investigators conducted physical and electronic surveillance of Gutierrez. They learned that he was arranging a sale of cocaine in Piscataway on September 27, leading to a surveillance operation at the planned transaction location, which resulted in Gutierrez's arrest.

A search of Gutierrez's residence uncovered approximately 100 plastic bags containing cocaine, concealed in imitation soda cans that closely resembled the one found in Gutierrez's car during his arrest.

U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger commended the efforts of special agents from Homeland Security Investigations Newark, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Kurtz, for their dedicated work on the investigation leading to these charges. He also expressed gratitude to the North Brunswick Department and the Franklin Township Police Department for their invaluable assistance.

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