A man who stole a Fort Lee police car and drove into borough officers has been captured in Pennsylvania, where investigators also discovered a large-scale drug ring, authorities announced Friday.
A team of borough, county and federal law enforcement officials raided a North Wales, Pa., apartment early Thursday and arrested the fugitive, 33-year-old Juan Manuel Mendez-Lazaro, according to Fort Lee Police Capt. Thomas Ottina.
Authorities obtained search warrants for the apartment and three vehicles at the scene, police said.
“As a result of these search warrants evidence of a large narcotics distribution ring was discovered,” the captain said in a statement. “Over 5 pounds of heroin were recovered along with narcotic packaging, scales, a Kilo press and other numerous items of evidentiary value were discovered and all seized as evidence.”
An alleged associate of Mendez-Lazaro, identified as Edward Erne Gomez-Veloz, was also detained for questioning and both were charged by Pennsylvania authorities for their role in the alleged drug ring, Ottina said.
Law enforcement in three states had been hunting for Mendez-Lazaro since he stole an unmarked Audi A6 police car after being stopped by officers at the Skyview Motel Aug. 23, authorities said.
“Multiple hours of manpower were spent on attempting to locate this fugitive,” Ottina said.
Fort Lee officers Deborah Siracuse, John Gallo and Detective Timothy Cullen were speaking with Mendez-Lazaro when police allege he jumped in the Audi, drove into the officers before driving over the George Washington Bridge and abandoning the stolen car in Upper Manhattan.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli has said shots were fired at Mendez-Lazaro during the escape.
Mendez-Lazaro faces charges including three counts of attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated assault by auto, aggravated assault on a police officer, eluding, marijuana possession and theft. He was ordered held at the Montgomery County Jail on $2 million bail, with no ten percent option.