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Post date: March 12 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Indictment Of 33 Individuals In Cross-State Heroin Distribution Network

Dozens Charged With Conspiracy In Four Related Pipelines That Funneled Heroin And Cocaine From NYC And Massachusetts Into St. Lawrence County

AG’s OCTF, State Police And Local Law Enforcement’s “Operation 315” Includes Seizure Of $1.1 Million Worth Of Street Drugs; More Than $100,000 In Cash; 13 Guns, Of Which Three Were Assault Rifles; Results In 109-Count Indictment

A.G Schneiderman: We Will Put People In Prison For Pushing Drugs To Our Kids

WATERTOWN –Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of 33 individuals charged with conspiring in four loosely-related drug distribution networks that funneled heroin and cocaine across state and county lines into St. Lawrence County. As part of a multi-agency investigation, code-named “Operation 315,” state and local law enforcement agents, led by the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police and St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force, conducted a 12-month probe that included covert physical surveillance and hundreds of hours of wiretaps in a coordinated effort to identify and shut down heroin pipelines which are flooding the largely rural St. Lawrence County and surrounding areas with deadly drugs. Today’s indictments included charges of illegal weapons possession by the alleged drug dealers, including for a Bushmaster, AR15 assault rifle.

“It is well known that heroin is as deadly as it is addictive. It’s less well known that, over the past decade, it’s use has spread from our inner cities to even our most rural New York counties and communities,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Make no mistake about it, we are fighting a war on heroin – and those who profit from it—across our state and with all the tools that are available to us. Besides arresting those who deal drugs, my office has equipped law enforcement officers across New York with a life-saving heroin overdose antidote and is cracking down on prescription drug abuse, which fuels opioid addiction.”

The indictments unsealed in St. Lawrence County Court, in Canton, N.Y., are the result of a year-long investigation in which law enforcement officials seized approximately two kilos of heroin, which has an estimated street value of $500,000, and more than five kilos of cocaine, with a street value estimated at $600,000, as well as over $100,000 in cash, seven hand guns, three assault rifles, two shotguns and a rifle.

The four indictments, which include a total of 111-criminal counts, charge each of the defendants with crimes that carry significant state prison time. The counts range from top felony charges of Conspiracy In The Second Degree, which carries a maximum of 25 years behind bars and Criminal Sale Of A Controlled Substance In The First Degree, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, to misdemeanor Criminal Sale of A Controlled Substance.

The first indictment charges 11 defendants with distribution of heroin and cocaine. Evidence developed during the investigation and outlined in court papers, shows that Nicholas Adams, of Potsdam, N.Y., purchased heroin in Leominster, Massachusetts, and brought it to St. Lawrence County for distribution, where it was allegedly sold on the streets in the Potsdam area. One of his co-defendants, Laronda Ashlaw, who resided with Adams, allegedly brought heroin from Massachusetts with her toddler in a vehicle. A loaded assault weapon and hypodermic needles were seized from a closet in the child’s room. Stolen goods, including jewelry, from two burglaries were also found in the home, court papers allege.

A second indictment charges 20 individuals, including three who are also named in the first indictment. This indictment charges three alleged drug suppliers, one from Yonkers, one from the Bronx, and a third of Syracuse, with cocaine and heroin distribution for allegedly supplying drugs to Colin Campbell, Joshua Jones, Caleb Serrano and Jordan Willette, all of St. Lawrence County.

One of the out-of county suppliers allegedly concealed the heroin he delivered from New York City by stowing it in the lining of the trunk of a 2008 Cadillac CTS. Defendants Caleb and Omar Serrano, who are brothers, concealed the cocaine that they trafficked inside of a lint brush in the car they drove, and another defendant, who is handicapped, concealed the heroin that he was transporting within the seat of his wheelchair that was stowed in his car. Drugs in this second alleged conspiracy came from New York City and Syracuse and were allegedly sold in the Edwards, Pierrepont and Stockholm areas of St. Lawrence County.

The third and fourth indictments charge nine people, four of whom are also named in the first two indictments, as members of the conspiracy to distribute heroin. Those charged in the third indictment include the handicapped defendant, who is charged with redistributing heroin for resale in the county via this third allege network. The fourth indictment includes charges against a fourth out-of-county supplier with distributing cocaine to Jason Burnette, among other counts.

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, “Today’s arrests and announcement speak to the inter-agency coordination and cooperation dedicated to getting drugs off New York streets. Thanks to a strong partnership, a major drug operation has been shut down and drugs, weapons, and money have been seized. These arrests should send a clear message to anyone dealing these dangerous and deadly drugs- you will be found, you will be arrested and you are going to jail.”

St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin M. Wells said, “The mission of this investigation was to arrest and remove heroin dealers that prey on our communities and to disrupt the flow of illegal drugs to our county -- we have accomplished that. On behalf of our task force partners and the people of St. Lawrence County, I want to thank the Attorney General and his staff along with all of the involved law enforcement professionals that have worked this case and that will continue to move it forward.”

Twenty six of the defendants have been arrested. Seven are being sought. Those arrested are:

NICHOLAS P. ADAMS, 22, Potsdam, NY
LARONDA L. ASHLAW, 29, Potsdam, NY
JASON C. BRUNET, 28, Edwards, NY
DARIAN J. CAMERON, 18, Winthrop, NY
COLIN A. CAMPBELL, 25, Winthrop, NY
ZACHARY W. COLE, 20, Gouvernour, NY
RYAN L. DONALDSON, 26, Potsdam, NY
ERIC M. DRAYSE, 34, Adirondacks Region
RYAN M. FINLEY, 27, Odgensburg, NY
KYLE D. HAWLEY, 25, Potsdam, NY
JOSHUA J. JONES, 24, Edwards, NY
KYLE E. KAIN, 21, Potsdam, NY
JUSTIN M. LASHOMB, 31, Hogansburg, NY
CALEB J. SERRANO, 22, Edwards, NY
OMAR L. SERRANO, 24, Edwards, NY
PAULA M. WELSH, 28, Massena, NY
JORDAN C. WILLETTE, 25, Pierrepont, NY

The charges against the defendants are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Law enforcement agencies that participated in the investigation include the Canton Police Department, the Potsdam Police Department, Massena Police Department, the Gouverneur Police Department, the Ogdensburg City Police Department, the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office, the Syracuse Police and Onondaga County Sheriff's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Franklin County Drug Task Force, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Border Enforcement Security Task Force, and the Coast Guard Investigative Service.

The investigation was conducted by St. Lawrence County Detective Arthur Shattuck and OCTF Special Investigator Christopher Reidy, with Supervising Investigator Thomas M. Wolf, Deputy Chief Eugene Black, and Chief Dominick Zarella.

The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Senior Investigative Counsel James J. Mindell and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Irene S. Bardot. OCTF is led by Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff. Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Prosecutions is Kelly Donovan.