A.G. Underwood Announces Takedown Of 30-Person Cocaine Trafficking Ring In Saratoga And Warren Counties

News from the New York Attorney General's Office 

October 23, 2018

Attorney General's Office Press Office / 212-416-8060


Multi-Agency Crackdown Leads to Indictment Charging Defendants with Trafficking Cocaine, Heroin, and Illegal Prescription Drugs Across Capital Region

Takedown is Latest in AG’s SURGE Initiative to Crack Down on Heroin and Opioid Traffickers in Suburban and Upstate New York

SARATOGA – Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced the arrests and 205-count indictment charging 30 defendants with trafficking cocaine, as well as heroin and illegal prescription medication, in Saratoga and Warren Counties and across the Capital Region. Today’s takedown is the latest in the Attorney General’s SURGE Initiative (Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic) to root out violent drug trafficking; since launching in 2017, SURGE has taken 345 alleged traffickers off the streets.

As part of an operation, code-named Operation “Off Broadway,” state and local law enforcement agents led by the New York State Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), in partnership with the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Albany Police Department, and the Glens Falls Police Department, concluded a thirteen-month investigation into a drug network that was operating across the region.

“As we allege, this trafficking ring flooded the Capital Region with cocaine and other drugs – fueling the addiction cycle that has ravaged communities across our state,” said Attorney General Underwood. “We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to cut off the flow of opioids and other drugs into our communities and drive traffickers like these out of business, part of our multi-levered approach to tackling New York’s evolving epidemic.”

As alleged in the indictment, Albany-based cocaine traffickers Tremel “Skinny” Rosario and Matthew “J” Malu partnered to set up a cocaine distribution operation in Saratoga and Warren Counties and across the Capital Region. Rosario and Malu were captured over wiretaps as they allegedly set up shop, using “workers” to peddle their cocaine, heroin, and illegal prescription drugs, and running additional drugs up from Albany themselves or via a hired drug “mule” whenever the “workers” were running low on product.

The Attorney General’s 205-count indictment was unsealed today in Saratoga County Court and charges the following 30 people with different crimes in relation to their involvement in the narcotics trafficking operation, including various Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (class A, B, C, D felonies) crimes and Conspiracy in the Second degree (class B felony):

Allen, Robert, 49 years old Queensbury, NY

Baker, Jessica, 37 years old South Glens Falls, NY

Brown, Tara, 45 years old Queensbury, NY

Connolly, Colleen, a/k/a Colleen Syman, 45 years old Lake Luzern, NY

Cox, Angela, 41 years old Schenectady, NY​​​​

Creel, Rashaun, a/k/a “Broadway,” 36 years old Schenectady, NY

Duprey, James, 52 years old Queensbury, NY

Frasier, Shane, 44 years old Glens Falls, NY

French, Vanessa, 49 years old Glens Falls, NY 

Graham, Vanessa, 36 years old Gansevoort, NY​​​

Grovenburg, Melvina, a/k/a “Mel,” 49 years old Glens Falls, NY

Lathrop, Steven, 35 years old Hudson Falls, NY​​

Layman, Donald, 72 years old Glens Falls, NY

Lee, Edward, a/k/a “Eddie,” 45 years old Glens Falls, NY

Malu, Matthew, a/k/a “J,” a/k/a “Capo,” 30 years old Albany, NY

Miller, Jamel, 38 years old Schenectady, NY

Monahan, Elizabeth, a/k/a “Beth,” 24 years old Hudson Falls, NY

Nichols, Jessica, 37 years old Fort Edward, NY

O’Keefe, Patrick, 42 years old Queensbury, NY

Passino, Renee, 31 years old South Glens Falls, NY

Pearson, Jamel, a/k/a “James,” 21 years old Albany, NY

Perry, Brenda, 49 years old Glens Falls, NY

Pierre, Hardley, 29 years old Schenectady, NY

Reid, Tara, 35 years old Queensbury, NY

Rosario, Tremel, a/k/a “Skinny,” 36 years old Albany, NY

Russo, Laura, 50 years old Schenectady, NY

Sambola, Mana, a/k/a Mana Sambole, a/k/a “Mike,” 36 years old South Glens Falls, NY

Schwartfigure, Kimberly, 42 years old Glens Falls, NY

Tai, Mark, a/k/a “Juan,” 31 years old Schenectady, NY

Torchetti, Nicholas, 47 years old Queensbury, NY

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

The charges contained in the indictment are the result of a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s OCTF, the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Albany Police Department, the Glens Falls Police Department, the United States Office of Probation and Pre-Trial Services, The City of Watervliet Police Department and the NY National Guard Counterdrug Task Force.

The investigation was directed by OAG OCTF Special Investigator Jonathon Molik under the supervision of OCTF Senior Investigator John Monte, and Deputy Chief Investigator Gene Black, under the supervision of Chief Dominick Zarrella, as well as Schenectady County Sheriff’s Investigator Robert Kennedy, under the supervision of Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino.

“The Schenectady County Sheriffs’ Office is pleased to have its Narcotics Enforcement Unit contribute and participate with the multi-agency investigation leading to the arrests made in today’s Off Broadway operation led by the AG’s Office OCTF,” said Schenectady County Sheriff Dagostino. “The Sheriffs’ NEU will continue to focus on conducting investigations into mid to high level narcotics trafficking in Schenectady County as well as maintaining our ongoing investigative partnerships with the other law enforcement agencies involved with this case. The Sheriffs’ Office began its investigation in the fall of 2017 and early investigative developments led to referral to the AG’s Office and DEA to expand the ongoing investigation.”

The case is being prosecuted by OAG OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Sharpe, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Maria Moran. Nicole Keary is the Deputy Attorney General in charge of OCTF. Margaret Garnett is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice.

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