A.G. Schneiderman Busts International Cocaine Pipeline Between New York City, The Dominican Republic And Dutchess County
‘Operation Snowfall’ Uncovers International, High-Volume Drug Outfit Based In Washington Heights That Allegedly Conducted Hundreds Of Drug Transactions Each Day; Member Of Prominent Wappingers Falls Family Among Those Indicted
Schneiderman: I Am Committed To Doing Everything In My Power To Break Up Drug Rings Threatening Communities Across The State
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the dismantling of a cocaine pipeline allegedly operating between New York City and the Dutchess County town of Wappingers Falls. The proceeds of the sales were funneled to the Dominican Republic, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed today. As a result of the investigation, known as “Operation Snowfall,” eight people have been charged with a combined 140 counts related to the trafficking and possession of cocaine and a ninth person was arrested on drug-related charges.
“I am committed to rooting out the criminal rings that are polluting communities across our state with a dangerous and illegal drugs,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s indictment lays out an international, high-volume drug outfit that allegedly operated around the clock. By shutting down this massive criminal enterprise, Operation Snowfall has taken these alleged drug dealers off the streets and into custody and helped make our communities safer.”
"The combined efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement once again end a drug operation,” said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico. “After a lengthy investigation, these criminals are behind bars and their dangerous drugs are out of our neighborhoods. I want to thank our law enforcement partners in this investigation, together, we are making our streets safer for New Yorkers."
According to papers filed in Dutchess County Court, the drug ring was run by a husband-wife duo, Robert Garcia and Adalgisa Hernandez, from their Washington Heights apartment building at 111 Wadsworth Avenue, just two blocks from the George Washington Bridge. The couple also allegedly used rented apartments in a building around the corner, 1365 St. Nicholas Avenue, to stash the cocaine, even using a trapdoor hidden within an apartment kitchen, and conduct in-person transactions using the apartment’s stairwells like an office.
As outlined in the indictment unsealed today, wiretaps and leads from informants revealed a surprisingly business-like operation: Hernandez took orders by phone, at least one hundred per day and sometimes more from her Wadsworth Avenue apartment; the orders were then relayed to employees at the St. Nicholas Ave. building, where the ringleaders maintained a storage facility on the 12th floor and a weighing/packaging operation on the 5th floor, where a revolving door of customers picked up their purchases.
Evidence obtained during the investigation indicates that the Washington Heights-based ring transported their profits to the Dominican Republic. Within the last two months, an associate of Garcia, Denny Martinez, was stopped at John F. Kennedy International airport carrying over $30,000 in cash on a flight from bound for the Dominican Republic, according to court papers.
The investigation, which was conducted by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, the New York State Police and Homeland Security Investigations, also uncovered an alleged arrangement connecting the Washington Heights-based ring with a large customer base in Wappingers Falls. Michael Novick, a well-connected member of the Wappingers Falls community where his sister sits on the village’s Board of Trustees and his brother is a police officer, is charged with directing co-conspirators to travel to Washington Heights multiple times each week, procure several ounces of cocaine each time and bring the narcotics back to Wappingers Falls for resale.
Once the narcotics arrived in Wappingers Falls, Novick would sell to a wide variety of customers and re-sellers in the area, frequently using Chubby’s Deli located at 28 Market Street in Wappingers Falls as a base of operation, according to today’s charges.
Those charged in today’s indictment are:
Robert Garcia – New York, NY
Adalgisa Hernandez – New York, NY
Juan Prado – New York, NY
Denny Gabriel Rojas Martinez – New York, NY
Michael Novick – Wappingers Falls, NY
Thomas Bonelli – Highland, NY
Richard Bernal – Wappingers Falls, NY
Timothy Long – Wappingers Falls, NY
Also arrested this morning on drug-related charges was Francisco Garcia of New York, NY.
The investigation was conducted by OCTF Investigators Edwin Margenat, Brad Farrell, Supervising Investigator Artie Schwartz and Deputy Chief Christopher Vasta. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Sennett, Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Prosecutions Kelly Donovan.
The Attorney General would also like to thank the New York City Police Department and Wappingers Falls Police Chief Carl Calabrese for their assistance.
The charges against the defendants are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.