Attorney General Cuomo's Upstate Guns, Gangs And Drugs Initiative Targets Albany Heroin And Cocaine Ring

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 28, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the indictment of five Albany County residents for taking part in a highly organized heroin and cocaine distribution operation centered in the Capital District.

As a result of the investigation, dubbed “Operation Mansion Hill,” nearly 100 grams of cocaine with a street value of approximately $9,000 along with three semiautomatic pistols and $12,000 cash were seized. In the Indictment, filed with the Albany County Supreme Court, a Grand Jury charged five people with possession and/or sale of narcotics and conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Additionally, one defendant was charged with multiple weapons possession offenses.

The indictment was the result of a four month multi-agency investigation led by Attorney General Cuomo’s Organized Crime Task Force and the Albany Police Department. Also participating in the investigation were the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Albany County Sheriff’s Department.

“This operation is yet another strike at the heart of the illicit drug trade in the Capital Region," said Attorney General Cuomo. "We have succeeded in getting more drugs and handguns off the streets and will continue to work with our partners in local law enforcement to crush distribution networks that threaten the livelihood of our communities. My Office remains dedicated to eradicating the drug trade across the Capital Region.”

According to the indictment, Steven Fletcher, 29, and Ebony Jones, 32, both of Ravena, were the leaders of a drug distribution ring which obtained narcotics from both local and New York City suppliers. Antonio Heard, 28, of Albany, is accused of being the operation’s principal local source of cocaine. Once the organization obtained the drugs they would be cut, weighed, packaged and sold throughout the Capital Region by Lance Fletcher, 25, and Linda Ross, 26, both of Albany. When dealing with cocaine, it was often purchased in powder form and then “cooked” by the conspirators into crack-cocaine for distribution.

The Grand Jury charged Steven Fletcher, Lance Fletcher, Ebony Jones, Linda Ross and Antonio Heard with Possession and/or Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree (class B felony), punishable by up to 9 years in prison, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (class E felony), which carries a maximum of 4 years in prison. The Grand Jury also indicted Antonio Heard for Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree (class A-II felony), with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and Lance Fletcher for multiple counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon, some of which carry a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison. Additionally, all defendants except Heard were charged with Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree, a misdemeanor.

Those indicted and their alleged roles:

  • Antonio Heard, 28, of 121 S. Allen Street, Albany, New York, - one of the organization’s principal suppliers of cocaine.
  • Steven Fletcher, 29, of 28 Oakbrook Manor, Ravena, New York - in charge of the organization.
  • Ebony Jones, 32, of 28 Oakbrook Manor, Ravena, New York - also in charge of the organization.
  • Lance Fletcher, 25, 217 Clinton Avenue, Albany, New York - worker who stored, processed and sold heroin and cocaine.
  • Linda Ross, 26, 118 2nd Street, Albany, New York - worker who stored, processed and sold cocaine.

Seized during the investigation were:

  • More than 90 grams of cocaine with a street value of approximately $9,000.00
  • Five digital scales used to weigh narcotics
  • Drug packaging materials
  • A Lorcin .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol
  • A Kel-Tec .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol
  • A Colt .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol
  • Numerous rounds of ammunition
  • Approximately $12,000

Since its inception in 2007, the Attorney General’s Upstate Guns, Gangs, and Drugs Initiative has conducted a variety of operations in cooperation with local and federal authorities resulting in charges against more than 300 defendants and seized well over $3 million in drugs and cash, as well as dozens of guns.

The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General, John W. Prizzia, under the supervision of OCTF First Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Robin L. Baker. The investigation was handled by OCTF Investigator Dennis Guiry, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator William Charles.

The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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