Attorney General James Takes Down Leaders Of Cocaine Trafficking Ring In Capital Region “Operation Off-Broadway”

Defendants Were Looking To Take Over The Cocaine Trade In The North Country Just Months After Being Paroled Out Of Federal Prison On Narcotics Trafficking Convictions

SARATOGA – Attorney General Letitia James announced the guilty pleas of Tremel Rosario and Matthew Malu, the leaders of a large-scale narcotics trafficking ring. Rosario, originally from the Bronx, pleaded guilty Friday in front of Saratoga County Court Judge James A. Murphy III to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, a class A-2 felony. On May 24, 2019, it is expected that he will be sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 5 years of post-release supervision. Malu, originally from Queens, pleaded guilty Friday in front of Judge Murphy to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, a class B felony. On May 24, 2019, it is expected that he will be sentenced to 12 years in prison followed by 3 years of post-release supervision. 

“These two individuals were the leaders of a drug ring that flooded the Capital Region with illicit drugs that take lives and harm our communities,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Let their conviction serve as a loud and clear message: we will not take drug trafficking lightly and will hold those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.” 

A thirteen-month investigation revealed that Tremel Rosario and Matthew Malu, central figures in this cocaine distribution network, partnered together to set up a cocaine distribution operation in Saratoga and Warren Counties. Both Rosario and Malu, Albany-based cocaine traffickers, set up shop using workers in several different cocaine distribution locations in Saratoga and Warren Counties. These workers would sell their cocaine throughout the day and night, and would call Rosario and/or Malu when they were running out of cocaine, and then Rosario, Malu or a drug “mule” hired by Rosario and Malu would run additional cocaine up to the workers. 

Both Rosario and Malu were convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine in federal district court in 2014 and were sentenced to 5 years in federal prison, after having been caught on federal wiretaps running a similar cocaine trafficking operation in Messina, New York. Both men partnered up again shortly after being paroled out of federal custody, setting up their cocaine trafficking operation in Saratoga and Warren Counties. This time, it was the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force that captured the duo over wiretaps, only months after having been paroled, engaged in nearly identical illegal behavior.  

The investigation, conducted by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, 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 New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, led to the indictment of 30 people, all of whom have now pled guilty with the exception of one defendant that still has an active warrant for his arrest. The charges against that defendant are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

This case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Michael Sharpe, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Maria Moran. Nicole Keary is the Deputy Attorney General in Charge of OCTF. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado. 

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