Pleasantville’s VIPER initiative nets first round of arrests

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PLEASANTVILLE– Four people felt the sting of the police department’s VIPER anti-crime initiative, which resulted in four arrests Sunday and the removal of a load of drugs off the streets during its first week back in action.

VIPER: a multi-pronged approach

Pleasantville Police Chief Jose L. Ruiz announced the reinstatement of his Violent Incident Prevention, Enforcement and Response, or VIPER initiative, late last week.

“These operations have always allowed us to get the highest community impact from our limited resources and I am proud that we will be able to resume the initiative this year,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz restored VIPER after the South Main Street shooting of an Egg Harbor Township man and the arrest of four Pleasantville teens last week. The teens were allegedly found to be in possession of a stolen handgun, illegal hollowpoint bullets and an illegal high-capacity magazine.

See Egg Harbor Township man shot in Pleasantville and Four arrested on weapons charges in Pleasantville

VIPER links city, regional police efforts

“This initiative joins local patrol, investigative and outside law enforcement officers from local, county, and state agencies in combating crime in targeted high incidence areas,” Pleasantville Capt. Sean Riggin said. “These patrols put an equal emphasis on our two-pronged approach to increasing the safety and security of our community.”

Riggin said the first prong, prevention, uses outreach strategies to increase community cooperation with gathering intelligence and support from residents, business partners, and other community stakeholders.

The second prong, enforcement and response, targets the arrest of violent offenders, Riggin said.

“These operations have been highly effective in reducing violent crime spikes in the past and we anticipate similar success,” he said.

Ruiz named Lt. Matt Hartman, Ptl. Ryan Vansyckle, Ptl. Elvis Nunez and Ptl. Mike Figueroa to the VIPER team.

First VIPER arrests

The first VIPER arrests occurred 10:50 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28 with charges against four Pleasantville men that ranged from possession of drugs to having outstanding warrants.

Riggin said the VIPER patrol officers stopped a vehicle for a code violation near the intersection of Clematis and East Park avenues in Pleasantville’s southeast corner.

Arrested were:

Gabriel Alejandro, 26, of Pleasantville, who was charged with driving while his license was suspended and with outstanding arrest warrants.

Jeremy Agramonte, 23, was arrested after police found him in possession of 13 bags of marijuana. He was charged with possession of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, and possession with intent in a school zone (South Main Street School).

Also taken into custody for outstanding warrants were Alex Ortiz-Ozoria, 19, and Luis Lopez, 22, both of Pleasantville.

Alejandro and Lopez were turned over to the Atlantic County jail in Mays Landing, Riggin said.

Ortiz-Ozoria and Agromonte were released pending court action.

Pleasantville Ptl. Andre Graves and K-9 Officer Mark Millard and his partner, Brisco, assisted in making the arrests.

Riggin said VIPER patrols will continue, and more arrests are anticipated.


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