An admitted leader of a drug-trafficking ring has been released on an ankle monitor pending sentencing.
Ameer Stephens, 36, pleaded guilty last week to a leadership role in a heroin and cocaine ring that resulted in the seizure of more than a half-million dollars’ worth of drugs, including deadly fentanyl.
He also admitted that he knew a there was a .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun in the vehicle police seized from his Galloway Township home. After a previous drug conviction, he could not legally own a gun.
He was released, following a detention hearing Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Patricia Wild. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 25.
The same day as his release was allowed, Stephens’ wife, Nadirah Abdul-Jabbar, pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to distribute heroin. The two told the court they will be living together pending his sentencing.
The pair was first arrested in July 2016, after police seized more than 20,000 bags of heroin, another 12 ounces of raw, unpackaged heroin, 1.25 kilograms of cocaine and 8 ounces of suspected fentanyl as part of the investigation.
Stephens was released on bail at that time, but was brought back to court March 6, 2017, after Atlantic City police found a kilogram of heroin and a stolen gun hidden inside a car that had been seized during the initial case.
That car was searched after Stephens was pulled over in Pleasantville for not wearing his seat belt, and officers there found a “trap” inside his car. Traps are hidden compartments used to hide drugs or guns.
While that trap was empty, it sparked a search of the car that had already been seized from Galloway and was sitting in Atlantic City’s impound lot.
A detention hearing held at that time under bail reform resulted in Wild ordering Stephens held pending the outcome of his case.
With his plea, defense attorney Hal Kokes requested a new detention hearing, and was successful in getting his client released. He declined to comment on the case.
During his plea March 29, Stephens admitted that, under his direction, including his wife and co-defendants Aquelah Coley, Aisha Braithwaite and Andrea Stephens-Allen helped him get the heroin and cocaine ready for sale and that Kenyetta Redd participated by “rolling in the car with me a couple of times” to distribute CDS.
“He also acknowledged the use of stash houses by admitting that the women would ‘hold it for me’ at various locations, including 1803 Bishop Allen, 17 Brooklyn and 310 Rosemont,” according to court records.