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Post date: June 23 2004

Central New York Drug Sweep Results In The Arrest Of Thirty Four

State Attorney General Spitzer, State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, Oneida County District Attorney Michael Arcuri, Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd and Cayuga County District Attorney James Vargason today announced the arrest of 34 individuals who are charged in two separate indictments and numerous felony complaints as participants in five separate Central New York drug rings trafficking in cocaine, marijuana and Phencyclidine (PCP), also known as Angel Dust.

Today's early morning raids took place in Onondaga, Oswego and Cayuga counties. The arrests involved 136 officers in what may be the largest drug crack-down in Central New York history. In August 2003, 47 defendants were charged in an 85-count indictment for distributing cocaine originating in New York City to be distributed across Upstate New York. Both today's action, and last summer's arrests were led by the Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF).

All of the rings were investigated by the New York State Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force and the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (C-Net) in conjunction with numerous other agencies.

"Sophisticated narcotics traffickers try to capitalize on the challenge facing law enforcement of sharing tips and leads from different parts of the state," said Attorney General Spitzer. "The cooperative efforts of law enforcement provide the opportunity to work hand-in-hand, and, as a result we are seeing unprecedented successes." Spitzer specifically praised the work of the New York State Police in these cases and thanked District Attorney William Fitzpatrick for his office's role in the case.

New York State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett said: "The outstanding cooperation and communication among the many law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation was crucial to the successful outcome. The significant quantity of cocaine, marijuana, and money seized are indicitive of the complexity and widespread influence of these drug dealers."

During the course of the investigations, authorities seized: nine pounds of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $500,000; 140 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of $350,000; 1.5 ounces of PCP, with a street value of approximately $4,000; and other controlled substances. Additionally, authorities seized $680,000 in cash, and a number of vehicles.

In one ring, five defendants are charged with obtaining large amounts of cocaine in Pennsylvania and then distributing it in Syracuse, Utica and Elmira. In a second ring, nine defendants are charged with distributing cocaine in Syracuse, Fulton and Oswego. In a third ring, 20 defendants are charged with distributing cocaine in Syracuse and Auburn. In a fourth ring, seven defendants are charged with distributing (PCP), and Ecstasy in Fulton and Oswego counties. Authorities believe the PCP was smuggled into the United States from Canada.

In a fifth ring, 15 defendants are charged with distributing large amounts of marijuana in Syracuse and to points as far away as Milton, Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is alleged that the marijuana came from Canada, and was smuggled into the United States across the Akwesasne Indian Reservation, which straddles the border between New York, Quebec and Ontario.

In addition to the state charges which led to today's arrests, information was developed during the course of the investigation that has been passed on by the New York State Attorney General's Office and the New York State Police to both Canadian law enforcement authorities and the United States Attorney's Office. This information led to the recent arrest of eight individuals in Canada, who will be prosecuted in Canada, and 12 individuals in the United States who will be prosecuted in federal court.

Authorities working in conjunction with the New York State Attorney General's Office have already arrested 12 individuals in addition to those arrested today as a result of this investigation.

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

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorneys General James Mindell, Gordon Cuffy and Irene Bardot under the supervision of the J. Christopher Prather, Deputy Attorney General-in-Charge of the Attorney General's Statewide Organized Crime Task Force . The case is being investigated by the New York State Police, the Finger Lakes Drug Task Force which is comprised of members of the City of Auburn Police Department, the Cayuga County Sheriff's Department, and the Oswego County Drug Task Force which is comprised of members of the City of Fulton Police Department, the City of Oswego Police Department and Oswego County Sheriff's Department. Other agencies which participated in these investigations are the SUNY Oswego Police Department, the City of Syracuse Police Department, the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department, the City of Utica Police Department, the Village of Skaneateles Police Department, the City of Elmira Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.