Operation Central City: Attorney General James Takes Down Two Drug Rings Responsible For Trafficking Heroin, Fentanyl, And Cocaine Throughout Central And Upstate New York
SYRACUSE -- Attorney General Letitia James today announced the indictment of 65 individuals charged with conspiring in two major drug distribution networks that transported heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine to Onondaga County, St. Lawrence County, Oswego County, Oneida County, and Jefferson County. As alleged in the two indictments unsealed in Onondaga County Court today, this investigation led to the recovery of approximately 4,700 bags of heroin and fentanyl, which had all been pre-packaged for easy distribution by the trafficking ring (with a street value estimated at approximately $140,000), and approximately 2 kilos of cocaine (with a street value estimated at more than $200,000).
The law enforcement agencies conducted a 15-month investigation that included covert surveillance and hundreds of hours of wiretaps, aimed at rooting out heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine dealers operating in St. Lawrence County, Oswego County, Oneida County, Onondaga County, and Jefferson County.
“These two drug rings were allegedly responsible for trafficking significant amounts of illicit drugs across Central and Upstate New York,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “In order to combat the opioid epidemic that is claiming far too many lives, we will continue to go after those responsible for pumping these dangerous drugs into our communities. Let this serve as a loud and clear message: drug trafficking will not be tolerated in New York State.”
Today’s takedown marks the latest major drug bust in the Attorney General’s Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic (S.U.R.G.E.) Initiative, a law enforcement effort that brings together state and local law enforcement to target New York’s growing – and often violent – heroin, opioid, and narcotics trafficking networks. Since launching in 2017, SURGE has taken 437 alleged traffickers off the streets.
The multi-agency investigation was code-named “Operation Central City,” and brought together the resources of nearly two dozen state, local, and federal enforcement agencies led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), including the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force, the Canton Police Department, the Gouverneur Police Department, the Potsdam Police Department, the Massena Police Department, the Norfolk Police Department, the Ogdensburg City Police Department, the Syracuse Police Department, the Fulton Police Department, the Utica Police Department, Watertown Police Department, the New York State Police, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Border Enforcement Security Task Force, the Cortland County Sherriff’s Office, the Oneida County Drug Task Force, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, Metro-Jefferson County Drug Task Force, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Oswego County Sherriff’s Office, Oswego County Drug Task Force, Oswego County District Attorney’s Office, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, and Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office.
The first indictment is comprised of 33 defendants who are accused of selling narcotics in Onondaga, St. Lawrence, and Jefferson Counties. As alleged in the indictment, Shondell Days of Syracuse provided narcotics to Hillary Gilson, Salean Simmons and numerous other St. Lawrence County drug dealers. Simmons also had several other narcotics sources besides Days, including Carlos Arroyo of Watertown, New York, and Robert Vega, Corey Tisdale, Felix Cirino, and Chyna Simon-Hess, all of Jersey City, New Jersey.
The second indictment is comprised of 34 defendants, two of whom also appear on the first indictment as well. This indictment alleges that Abdullah Quaid, Adam Durham, and Louis Mike led a Syracuse-based narcotics distribution network that sold cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl to drug resellers in Onondaga, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Oswego, and Oneida Counties.
“I commend the outstanding work by the Attorney General’s Office and the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation,” said State Police Acting Superintendent Keith M. Corlett. “We will not stand by while these organizations traffic dangerous, illegal drugs in our neighborhoods. Our message to those who continue to bring these drugs into our communities: You will be held accountable for your actions, and you will end up behind bars.”
“We appreciate the professionalism and collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General and all of our law enforcement partners during this case,” said St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells. “We look forward to future partnerships with Attorney General James as we continue to combat these problems that are plaguing St. Lawrence County and areas throughout New York. These takedowns serve the function of ensuring safety and security of our state.”
The two separate indictments charge 65 individuals with crimes that include various counts of Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (class A, B, and C felonies), and Conspiracy to commit those crimes.
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 investigation was led by St. Lawrence County Detective Arthur Shattuck and OAG OCTF Special Investigator William Elsenbeck, with the assistance of OAG Legal Support Analyst Eric Taub, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Thomas M. Wolf and Deputy Chief Eugene Black. The Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau is led by Acting Chief Investigator John Reidy.
The case is being prosecuted by OAG OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Senior Investigative Counsel James J. Mindell, under the supervision of Upstate OCTF Deputy Chief Maria Moran. Nicole Keary is the Deputy Attorney General in Charge of OCTF. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado.