A.G. Schneiderman & NYSP Superintendent D’Amico Join Forces To Take Down Two Major Drug Trafficking Rings In Western New York
Cocaine And Prescription Pills Transported From New York City, Boston And Florida; Investigation Also Uncovers Illegal Animal Fighting Operation
Schneiderman: Drug Trafficking Rings Infect Our Neighborhoods And Tear Apart Our Communities
BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico announced today the arrest and indictment of 40 people for operating two different drug trafficking rings that operated throughout Erie, Genesee and Niagara counties. Through parallel investigations that included undercover operations, GPS tracking devices and hundreds of hours of covert surveillance, investigators seized more than $100,000 in cocaine along with large quantities of prescription pills and cash. One of the investigations also led to the discovery of bi-monthly cockfights on an Indian reservation in Niagara County.
“Drug trafficking rings like these infect our neighborhoods and tear apart our communities,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s arrests strike a significant blow to the drug trade across Western New York. My office, with our strong collaboration with law enforcement partners, will fight to make our communities safer by rooting out large-scale narcotics trafficking networks.”
“It is through the combined efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement that these dangerous individuals are now off our streets and out of our communities,” NYSP Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said. “We worked together identifying these dealers, pinpointing their drug activity and shutting down their enterprises. We remain committed to our partnership with the New York State Attorney General's Office and other law enforcement agencies to continue to intercept this type of illegal activity and the damage it does to our communities.”
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Acting SAC James J. Hunt said, “The members of this cocaine and crack cocaine distribution crew sold this poison throughout the Niagara Falls area and to traffickers supplying the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, shattering the quality of life along the way. Today's arrests have put an end to their drug network, arresting crew members at all levels; those who sold crack cocaine and cocaine on the streets, to the resellers, to the suppliers who transported the drugs from Florida to Buffalo concealed in soles of shoes. I commend the dedication and teamwork of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners throughout this investigation."
As part of a multi-agency investigation code-named Operation Lockport, state and local law enforcement agents led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) conducted an 18-month-long operation. Two indictments, charging more than 160 combined counts and 25 people, were unsealed in Erie County Supreme Court today.
The investigation led to the seizure of approximately two kilograms of cocaine and more than $60,000 in cash. Members of the narcotics distribution organization would transport the cocaine from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to the City of Niagara Falls.
Investigators believe that the suspects would pack cocaine into the soles and heels of doctored pairs of shoes while transporting it from Florida to New York and then cut up the shoes once in Buffalo to extract it. The shoes, along with box cutters, razor blades and utility knives, were found in a vehicle belonging to Vincent Mundy, of Fort Lauderdale, who was arrested this morning.
The cocaine was subsequently sold to Jermaine Cox and Lamar Johnson of Niagara County and Geraldine Horsefall of Genesee County, all of whom acted as the linchpins of the distribution network. The suspects then resold the cocaine to customers residing in Erie County and on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.
Geraldine Horsefall, who was assisted in these sales by her children, was also the focal point of a prescription pain pill distribution network. She obtained hydrocodone pills from some of her co-defendants and resold them to individuals in Genesee and Erie Counties. The Attorney General’s Office is conducting a separate investigation into how these prescription pills were originally obtained.
Several other agencies assisted in this investigation, including the New York State Police, the Niagara Falls Police Department, the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Genesee County Drug Task Force. Attorney General Schneiderman commends and thanks these agencies for their work.
In the second investigation, code-named Operation TGIF, the Attorney General’s OCTF and the New York State Police, with the assistance of the Buffalo Police Department, conducted an investigation that recovered nearly 700 grams of cocaine. The suspects in this case arranged to have the cocaine transported to Buffalo from New York City and the Boston area, where it was sold to Lucian Pitre and Juan Fermin, of Buffalo, and Franklin Lara, of the Dominican Republic. These three men, the linchpins of the distribution network, resold it to customers in Erie County. This indictment, also unsealed today in Erie County Supreme Court, charges 15 people with more than 80 counts.
During the course of Operation TGIF, investigators discovered that members of this drug network attended regular cockfights on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation. Undercover investigators observed hundreds of cockfights, including many at which the animals were killed, as well as apparatus, including spurs and razor blades that were affixed to the birds’ legs, tools used to transport or bury the animals and a board listing matchups. Bets were placed on each fight, both between the owners of the birds and between members of the assembled crowd. The owners of the property collected an admission fee from each participant, and a referee was paid per fight. Matthew Dubuc, on whose property the fights occurred, has been charged with in connection with the fighting operation.
“We continue to reduce crime in the city of Buffalo. Since 2005 overall crime is down 25% and its operations like this that have helped play a key role in the reduction in crime," said Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown. I want to thank Attorney General Schneiderman and the State Police for this effort and their continued cooperation and collaboration when it comes to public safety and reducing crime IN Buffalo and Western New York. Taking down two major drug trafficking rings sends a very strong message from the Attorney General.
“I would like to thank Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico for working to keep our neighborhoods safe,” said Mayor Paul Dyster of the City of Niagara Falls. “Today, we’re witnessing the results of different law enforcement agencies coming together and sending a message that narcotics have no place in our community. I look forward to continued collaboration between the Attorney General’s Office, the State Police and the City of Niagara Falls Police Department.”
“The Niagara Falls Police Department is committed to keeping drug dealers and drug traffickers off our streets,” said Bryan DalPorto, Superintendent of the Niagara Falls Police Department. “We were proud to play a role in this investigation - which focused on a large network of illegal activities - and we’re confident that the results will have a very positive impact on our city.”
The Operation Lockport case is being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Kevin J. Kane; the Operation TGIF case is being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorneys General Patricia Carrington and Thomas Schoellkopf. Both cases are supervised by Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff, under the overall supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.
Operation “TGIF” was conducted by OCTF Special Investigators Thomas Vivian and Ever Quinones under the direction of Supervising Investigator Peter J Talty and Chief Eugene Black
Lockport by NYSP Investigator Michael E. Bruggman of the Western Regional Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) under the direction of Senior Investigator Major Timothy Bour, under the direction of Lt. Martin McKee and Major Wayne Olson.
Below is a list of suspects charged in connection with today’s indictments.
Charged in connection with Operation Lockport are:
- GERALDINE HORSEFALL, 59, of Pembroke, NY
- ARYLYN HORSEFALL, 33, of Pembroke, NY
- DENNIS KNUEPPEL, 48, of Amherst, NY
- MICHELLE KING, 42, of Akron, NY
- LORI SCHWAB, 33, of Corfu, NY
- DENISE JENNER, 54, of Akron, NY
- CHRISTY WHITE, 38, of Akron, NY
- RENEE DYLAG, 40, of Akron, NY
- DAVID MILKS, 39, of Akron, NY
- GLORIA SHELL, 70, of Buffalo, NY
- ROY VICTOR, 55, of Holland, NY
- ANTHONY BLACKMAN, 32, of Elmira, NY
- RUSSELL BLACKMAN, 28, of Elmira, NY
- JERMAINE COX, 35, of Niagara Falls, NY
- MARQUITTA COX, 38, of Niagara Falls, NY
- ORIE DOCTOR, 41, of Tonawanda Indian reservation
- WILLIAM GRAHAM, 55, of Niagara Falls, NY
- KEVIN KING, 39, of Niagara Falls, NY
- LAMAR JOHNSON, 34, of Lewiston, NY
- STEPHANIE LOMBARDO, 54, of Lewiston, NY
- VINCENTE MUNDY, 59, of Fort Lauderdale, FL
- DURVAL PARKER, 37, of Saint Catherine, Jamaica
- ERIC PARKER, 38, Pembroke, NY
- JAMES SCHMAHL, 34, of Niagara Falls, NY
- COCO SPENCER, age 30, Lockport NY
Charged in connection with Operation TGIF are:
- JONATHAN PEREZ a/k/a Luis Sanchez-Cruz, 37, of New York, NY
- FRANKLIN LARA, a/k/a Jose Rivera Colon, a/k/a Benny Rodriguez, 35, of the Dominican Republic
- LUCIANO PITRE, 36, of Buffalo, NY
- CARMEN PITRE, 45, of Buffalo, NY
- OSCAR RUIZ, 49, of Cheektowaga, NY
- CARMEN SALCEDO, 37, of Lawrence, MA
- ANGEL CENTENO, 47, of Buffalo, NY
- JUAN FERMIN, 48, of Buffalo, NY
- ANABEL SANCHEZ, 42 of Buffalo, NY
- JUAN SANTIAGO, 69, of Buffalo, NY
- CHRISTIAN CUADRADO, a/k/a Christian Rodriguez, 32, of Buffalo, NY
- MATTHEW DUBUC, 42, of Sanborn, NY
- ANTHONY DEJAMES, 32, of Buffalo, NY
- PAUL SETLOCK, 37, of Buffalo, NY
- JASON WOOLLEY, 45, of Boston, NY
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.