A Morganville man is the latest to plead guilty to his role in a massive drug operation uncovered by multiple law enforcement agencies at the Jersey Shore and beyond last year.

The announcement comes from the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office about the latest man to plead guilty stemming from "Operation Checkmate" that occurred over four months in 2021.

James Hemenway, 43, of Morganville pled guilty Thursday to Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine with Intent to Distribute and is looking at a possible seven years in New Jersey State Prison.

Detectives executed court authorized search warrants at Hemenway’s home and two motor vehicles on October 26, 2021, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said, and they found and seized "approximately 130 grams of cocaine and $29,000 in United States Currency."

(Photo Courtesy: Ocean County Prosecutor's Office)
(Photo Courtesy: Ocean County Prosecutor's Office)
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Hemenway was brought to the Ocean County Jail following his arrest but had to be released at the time because of New Jersey's Bail Reform Law.

“Operation Checkmate,” was a four month probe between July and October of 2021 where law enforcement agencies including the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office looked into the distribution of cocaine across Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex Counties and as a result, they shut down the networks dealing CDS into those three counties plus New York City and it led to 24-arrests overall with most charges distribution based.

In all, following search warrants that were executed, investigators found and seized more than four kilograms of cocaine, over 15 pounds of marijuana, in excess of $650,000 in United States currency, seven firearms (three handguns, three “ghost guns,” and one pistol grip shotgun), ten vehicles, and additional illegal narcotics, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Cocaine powder
Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Prosecutor Billhimer said that "the three cocaine networks were responsible for the import of more than three kilograms of cocaine per week into the Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex County areas."

 

In full, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer explained the investigation in his Thursday statement.

"“Operation Checkmate” was a four-month-long cooperative, multi-jurisdictional investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, United States Drug Enforcement Administration – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Group 5, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, and New Jersey State Police - Trafficking Central Unit, in concert with many other state, county, and local law enforcement agencies.

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force managed and directed three simultaneous multi-agency investigations into high level cocaine distribution in Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex Counties, as well as New York City. 

Ocean County Prosecutors Office. (Vin Ebenau, Townsquare Media NJ)
Ocean County Prosecutors Office. (Vin Ebenau, Townsquare Media NJ)
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During the course of these investigations, approximately 50 additional law enforcement personnel were assigned to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force on a full-time basis. Multiple agencies – both within and outside of Ocean County - assisted in every aspect of all three investigations."

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Prosecutor Billhimer said that Ocean County Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Burke is handling the case on behalf of the State.

These are the law enforcement agencies who aided the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force in this investigation.

"Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit; Ocean County Regional SWAT Team; United States Drug Enforcement Administration - HIDTA Group 5; Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force; New Jersey State Police - Trafficking Central Unit; New Jersey State Police Teams Unit; New Jersey Air National Guard Counter Drug Task Force; Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Unit; Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force; Matawan Borough Police Department; Matawan Borough Police Department K-9 Unit; Keyport Borough Police Department; Manalapan Township Police Department; Ocean County Sheriff’s Office; Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Field Services Unit; Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit; Barnegat Township Police Department; Brick Township Police Department Street Crimes Unit; Brick Township Police Department Special Response Team; Brick Township Police Department K-9 Unit; Beachwood Borough Police Department; Berkeley Township Police Department; Jackson Township Police Department; Lakewood Township Police Department Drug Enforcement Unit; Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team; Lakewood Township Police Department K-9 Unit; Manchester Township Police Department Special Enforcement Team; Ocean Township Police Department (Waretown); Point Pleasant Borough Police Department; South Toms River Police Department; Stafford Township Police Department; Toms River Township Police Department Special Enforcement Unit; Toms River Township Police Department Emergency Services Unit; Toms River Township Police K-9 Unit; Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office; Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit; Aberdeen Township Police Department; Asbury Park Police Department; Hazlet Township Police Department; Hazlet Township Police Department K-9 Unit; Keansburg Borough Police Department; Marlboro Township Police Department; Middletown Township Police Department; Sea Bright Borough Police Department; Old Bridge Township Police Department - Bureau of Narcotics; Union Beach Borough Police Department; Union Beach Borough Police Department K-9 Unit; New York City Police Department – 50th Precinct Field Intelligence Office; and the City of New York Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor."

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