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Suspect arrested by tri-county task force in home invasion also wanted in Wood-Ridge

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE: Two men wanted in an April home invasion were snatched up by North Haledon police, with help from law enforcement officers from Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.

One of the men was also wanted out of Wood-Ridge in connection with a series of car thefts.

Hector Rivera (TOP: Ramon Melendez-Lugon)

“This isn’t just cooperation. This is true police consolidation,” Wood-Ridge Police Chief Joseph Rutigliano said. “At one point, there were 30 officers from different departments all sharing information.”

North Haldeon Police Chief Robert Bracco told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that his detectives got a tip earlier this month from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department about the late April attack, in which three men — one armed with a handgun – forced their way into a local home, beat up the owner and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Once the victim picked two of his assailants from a photo lineup, the chief said, investigators began working with their counterparts from Union City, Carlstadt and Wood-Ridge, along with the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department and New Jersey State Police.

Officers struck quickly last night, arresting Hector Rivera, 37, at his Irvington home and 34-year-old Ramon Melendez-Lugon outside his Union City apartment, both around 9 p.m.

Rivera, a Jersey City auto store manager, was being held on $600,000 bail and the unemployed Melendez-Lugon $300,000 bail in the Passaic County Jail. Both are charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, theft and weapons possession.

Melendez-Lugon is also facing charges out of Wood-Ridge.

The third invader, as-yet unidentified, was still in the wind this afternoon.

The victim told police he answered a knock at the back door and had a gun put to his head, Bracco said. Two other men rushed in with the gunman, he said.

The invaders forced him into his basement, bound him with duct tape and took off with the money, the chief said.

After freeing himself, the homeowner called his daughter, who lives in Bergen County. She dialed 911 and got a Bergen County dispatcher in Mahwah who immediately summoned North Haledon police.

Bracco said his officers got there quickly, along with a K9 unit from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and police from Wyckoff and Hawthorne.

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