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New Jersey parents charged after toddler found amid heroin, knives

By Victoria Cavaliere

(Reuters) - Police arrested a New Jersey couple after their toddler was found asleep on a mattress that was covering up bags of heroin and weapons, authorities said on Wednesday.

Hypodermic needles were found within the 2-year-old girl's reach in the Middletown, New Jersey, house, about 40 miles (60 km) south of New York City, authorities said.

Jenna Connett and her husband, William Connett, both 35, were arrested on charges including possession of heroin, possession with intent to distribute and child endangerment.

The girl was placed in the custody of her grandmother, authorities said.

A team of 17 officers descended on the house last week to find Jenna Connett sleeping on a mattress with her daughter.

Underneath were 100 bags of heroin and two knives, apparently used to protect the drug stash, authorities said.

The couple was believed to be selling up to $10,000 per week of the drug out of their home, the Monmouth County, New Jersey, prosecutor's office said.

The charges come as New Jersey authorities try to crack down on a surge of heroin use.

On Tuesday, authorities announced the arrest of more than 300 people - 280 heroin users and 40 dealers - a heroin drug market in the city of Paterson.

That investigation turned up nearly 12,000 bags of heroin and 1,200 grams of raw heroin valued at $350,000, as well as more than 30 guns and thousands of dollars in cash, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Doina Chiacu)

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