According to Lt. Joseph Bode, North Bergen police received a phone call from the management of the Palace Motel in town. Apparently, a maid at the Palace Motel entered a room to attempt to clean the room and spotted the butt of a gun sticking out of the sheets on the bed.
"The maid then contacted the management of the motel, and they then contacted us," Bode said. "We sent two officers over there."
North Bergen police officers Thomas Kenny and Alex Guzman, who has been on the job for less than three weeks, were dispatched to the scene to investigate. When they entered the empty room, Officer Kenny observed what he believed to be the butt of a weapon protruding from the mattress. After pulling the weapon from the mattress, Kenny found the weapon to be an SKS assault rifle.
Further investigation inside the mattress resulted in the recovery of seven handguns, five automatic weapons and two revolvers. They also found $3,670 in cash.
"The mattress was apparently slit open and the weapons were placed inside the mattress," Bode said.
The officers then contacted police headquarters, and Sgt. Robert Dowd was dispatched to the scene, along with several other police officers.
According to Bode, the police received information from the motel's management that the group that had rented the room in question had also rented another room as well. So police went to the other room, knocked on the door and found several people in the room.
"When the police entered the room, they saw the ammunition in plain view," Bode said. "There were seven parties in the room, six adults and a juvenile. They were all placed under arrest."
The officers found hollow point bullets in the room and a plastic bag that was believed to contain marijuana. Arrested at the scene were 22-year-old Alejandro Ascaro of Tulsa, Okla.; 21-year-old Michael Rodrigues of West New York; 20-year-old Christian Rivero of North Bergen; 21-year-old Wilmer Warren of North Bergen; 19-year-old David Holder of Broken Arrow, Okla.; 19-year-old Alfredo Rivero, Jr. of Broken Arrow, Okla., and an unidentified 17-year-old male juvenile, who told police he was from Broken Arrow as well.
All of the above were charged with possession of an assault weapon, unlawful possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of large capacity magazines, prohibited weapons and devices and possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) under 50 grams. They were remanded to the Hudson County Jail in Kearny, with bail set at $50,000 for each. The juvenile was turned over to the Hudson County Youth House in Secaucus.
The weapons charges are third-degree charges that carry a three-to-five year sentence if found guilty. The rest are fourth-degree charges that carry up to 18 months in prison, with fines for all ranging as much as $15,000 per each count.
Further investigation by the North Bergen police revealed that the guns were brought to North Bergen after being purchased in Oklahoma. Sales records traced the sale of three of the guns to a Broken Arrow woman, Haley Bacon, who is believed to be the common-law wife of Ascaro.
Through her attorney, Bacon surrendered herself to North Bergen police two days later and was charged with seven counts of transport of weapons, one count of the unlawful possession of an assault weapon and one count of allowing the weapon to be transported.
Also, police investigation led to the arrest of 31-year-old Jesse King of North Bergen, who was charged with conspiracy to possess an assault weapon. King and Bacon were also remanded to the Hudson County Jail, where bail was set at $7,500.
"King wasn't there at the motel at the time that the weapons were seized," Bode said. "But he was taken into custody later on."
Apparently, these weapons were headed out into the street, being sold for illegal use in street crimes.
"We're working still in conjunction with the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with the investigation, which is ongoing," Bode said. "This is an excellent job by our police department. At least, their gun-running enterprise has been stopped for now here and countless lives have been saved."
Several of the people arrested have prior arrests for illegal weapons possession.
"In recent memory, this is the biggest arrest we've had in terms of weapons," North Bergen Police Chief Angelo Busacco said. "We're still conducting further investigation to see how far this ring stretches. There could be more arrests. These people are looking at a lot of time and some large fines."