Operation Gray Roc: Attorney General James Announces Takedown Of Drug Ring Trafficking Heroin, Fentanyl, And Cocaine In Monroe County

Operation Gray Roc: Attorney General James Announces Takedown of Drug Ring Trafficking Heroin, Fentanyl, and Cocaine in Monroe County

23 Individuals Indicted and Charged with 103 Crimes for Trafficking Deadly Mixture of Heroin and Fentanyl called “Gray Death”

ROCHESTER – Attorney General Letitia James today announced the indictment of 23 individuals charged with 103 crimes related to their participation in a narcotics trafficking network that distributed heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine in and around Monroe County. As alleged in the indictment unsealed in Monroe County Court today, this investigation led to the recovery of more than 250 pre-packaged bags of heroin and fentanyl along with other bags containing both heroin and fentanyl in loose form and a kilogram of cocaine, as well as three loaded firearms. The multi-agency investigation was code-named “Operation Gray Roc” because several of the group’s members sold a deadly gray-colored mixture of heroin, fentanyl, and other controlled substances, commonly referred to as “Gray Death.” 

“There is zero tolerance for any activity that brings dangerous drugs into our communities,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “These individuals allegedly engaged in a large-scale drug distribution network that pumped illicit drugs throughout the Rochester-area, including a lethal combination of heroin and fentanyl that is fueling the opioid crisis. We will continue to partner with local enforcement and take every action to stop the flow of these narcotics throughout New York." 

The law enforcement agencies conducted a 13-month investigation that included covert surveillance and hundreds of hours of wiretaps, aimed at rooting out heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine dealers operating in Monroe County. The investigation brought together the resources of state, local, and federal enforcement agencies led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), including the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (“GRANET”), Rochester Police Department (“RPD”), New York State Police (“NYSP”), Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, the Rochester office of the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Gates Police Department, New York – New Jersey HIDTA, and the U.S. Border Patrol. 

The indictment is comprised of 23 defendants who are accused of selling narcotics in Monroe County. As alleged in the indictment, Angel Marcial, a/k/a “Bate,” Jesus Vazquez Ramos, Luis Miguel Saez, and Joshua Vazquez conspired to operate a cocaine distribution network out of a garage at 961 Lyell Avenue in the City of Rochester, Monroe County. That cocaine was then distributed throughout the organization to Hiram Abril, Josue Rentas, and others. Pedro Cruz is also alleged to have operated cocaine distribution network out of a separate garage within the 961 Lyell Avenue complex. Search warrants executed at 961 Lyell Avenue resulted in the recovery of approximately a kilogram of cocaine along with over $48,000 in cash and two loaded firearms, one of which had a defaced serial number.  

Additionally, Josue Rentas, Giovanni Rosario, and others conspired to distribute cocaine, along with Gray Death and additional supplies of heroin, to customers from Monroe and surrounding counties. In one recorded telephone conversation, two of those narcotics sellers, Julie Knupp and Isidro Rivera, discussed the lethality of the heroin/fentanyl mixture, with Knupp bragging that she had “something that will kill you” and that she had to use Narcan to revive a third person who had ingested the drugs. Search warrants at the homes of Rentas and Rosario resulted in the recovery of a loaded firearm in addition to more than 500 bags of cocaine, nearly 200 bags of heroin and fentanyl, and drug paraphernalia. Through the electronic and physical surveillance, investigators discovered that Rosario had several other sources besides Rentas, including Christian Reynoso, Juan Tejeda, Agripino Vargas, and Christian Rivera, and that Glenitza Gonzalez and Hipolito Vargas were assisting Rosario in his narcotics distribution activity. 

“As a result of this investigation, we have taken nearly two dozen people off the street who were distributing a deadly mixture of heroin and fentanyl, without concern for the damage these drugs can inflict on our neighborhoods,” said New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett. “I want to thank the Attorney General’s Office, along with our local and federal law enforcement partners, for their continued collaboration. We will not tolerate this type of illegal activity anywhere in New York State.” 

“Thanks to the leadership of the New York Attorney General’s office and the help of nearly a dozen other partners in federal, state and local law enforcement, we have indicted and charged 23 bad actors for their alleged roles in a ring that flooded Rochester and Monroe County with these dangerous drugs,” said Lieutenant Robert Hill of the Rochester Police Department and head of Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (GRANET). “We will continue to partner with our colleagues at all levels of government to take deadly, illicit drugs off our streets and to prevent the opioid crisis from claiming more lives.” 

The indictment charges 23 individuals with crimes that include various counts of Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (class A, B, and C felonies), and/or Conspiracy to commit those crimes. Cruz and Rentas are also charged with various felony weapons possession offenses for the loaded handguns. 

Those charged in today’s indictment include: 

HIRAM ABRIL – Rochester, NY 
PEDRO CRUZ – Gates, NY 
JOSE DEJESUS – Rochester, NY 
GLENITZA GONZALEZ, a/k/a “GLENNY” – Rochester, NY 
EDEL GONZALEZ-MORALES – Rochester, NY 
MYKEL JOHNSON, a/k/a “MIKEY” – Rochester, NY 
CHRIS KIRKEY, a/k/a “CURT” – North Rose, NY 
JULIE KNUPP – Rochester, NY 
ANGEL MARCIAL, a/k/a “BATE” – Webster, NY 
JEFFREY MARRERO – Gates, NY 
ADRIAN PAIGE – Rochester, NY 
JESUS VAZQUEZ RAMOS – Ontario, NY 
JOSUE RENTAS – Rochester, NY 
CHRISTIAN REYNOSO – Greece, NY 
CHRISTIAN RIVERA – Rochester, NY 
ISIDRO RIVERA – Rochester, NY 
GIOVANNI ROSARIO – Rochester, NY 
LUIS MIGUEL SAEZ – Rochester, NY 
JUAN TEJEDA – Gates, NY 
JOSHUA TORRES – Rochester, NY 
AGRIPINO VARGAS – Rochester, NY 
HIPOLITO VARGAS, JR. – Rochester, NY 
JOSHUA VAZQUEZ – Rochester, NY 

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 488 alleged traffickers off the streets. 

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 OAG OCTF Special Investigator Phillip Sindoni, 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 Geoffrey J. Ciereck, 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. 

 

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