Attorney General James Announces Takedown of Drug Trafficking Ring that Sold Heroin, Fentanyl, and Cocaine in the Capital Region

Investigation Recovered Handguns, High-Capacity Magazines, and $350,000 Worth of Heroin, Fentanyl, and Cocaine
25 Individuals Indicted and Charged with 164 Crimes

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced the takedown of a major drug trafficking ring that was distributing heroin and fentanyl, as well as powder and crack cocaine in Rensselaer, Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, and Dutchess counties. The takedown resulted in the indictment of 25 individuals charged with 164 crimes and recovered more than three kilograms of cocaine, approximately 40 grams of heroin laced with fentanyl — which have a combined potential street value of approximately $350,000 — four handguns, two large capacity ammunition feeding devices, and the seizure of over $50,000 in cash.

“These individuals trafficked a deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl that has claimed lives and poisoned communities across our state,” said Attorney General James. “This investigation is part of my office’s ongoing work to keep New Yorkers safe and combat the scourge of drug-related addictions and overdoses. We will continue to pursue drug traffickers who endanger lives and threaten public safety, and I thank our partners in law enforcement for their support and collaboration in this operation.”

“The culmination of this investigation and the dismantling of a major drug trafficking ring in the Capital Region is the direct result of the hard work done by members of the various local law enforcement agencies involved and exemplifies just how effective law enforcement can be when we work together,” said New York State Police Acting Superintendent Dominick L. Chiumento. “This case also shows the scale of drugs, weapons, and money that travel through our suburban and upstate communities. We have shown by this collaborative effort that law enforcement will rise to the challenge and protect our communities from these ruthless criminals and the destructive drugs that are infiltrating our neighborhoods.”

“The Troy Police Department applauds the collaborative efforts of the Attorney General and this law enforcement group,” said Troy Police Department Chief Daniel DeWolf. “We are proud to be a part of this successful investigation. The scourge of illegal drug use and distribution are far reaching and negatively affect neighborhoods, families, and the entire community. The fruits of this laborious operation can serve as a beacon of hope in our combined duty to quell the illegal drug trade and provide a safer environment for our residents.”


Recovered firearms

Heroin and fentanyl packages stamped with the phrase “American Gangster”

Heroin and fentanyl packages stamped with the phrase “American Gangster”

Cocaine recovered by the investigation

Cocaine recovered by the investigation

Alexander Torres and Yamillet Galarza were central figures in this narcotics distribution network and they often partnered together to obtain and sell heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine in Rensselaer County. As alleged in the indictment, the investigation revealed that Torres had four different sources of supply for the cocaine and narcotics and he then sold the drugs to a network of customers around the Capital Region.  

During the investigation, Torres attempted to import a kilogram of cocaine from a supplier in Puerto Rico by mailing the cocaine to his residence in Troy inside of an encyclopedia. Later in the investigation, Torres purchased heroin laced with fentanyl from a Bronx-based narcotics dealer in custom-designed bags stamped with the phrase “American Gangster” as a brand to distinguish his narcotics from other local narcotics sellers. Torres is charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, which carries a mandatory life sentence in state prison.

Efrain Acevado was also a major cocaine distributor in this operation. During the course of the investigation, Acevado opened a restaurant called “El Coqui,” in Troy, and he sold narcotics to customers from the restaurant and used it as a location to stash his narcotics and related proceeds. 

The multi-agency investigation brought together the resources of state and local law enforcement agencies led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), including the New York State Police, City of Troy Police Department, the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office, Schenectady Police Department and the Schenectady Sheriff’s Office. The year-long investigation included covert surveillance and hundreds of hours of wiretaps over more than two dozen target phones, aimed at rooting out heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine dealers operating in the Capital region and elsewhere in New York state.

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 934 alleged traffickers off the streets.

The indictment, which was unsealed today in Rensselaer County Court, contains 164 counts, charging the defendants with crimes in relation to their involvement in the narcotics trafficking operation, including various counts of Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (class A, B, C, D felonies), as well as Conspiracy in the Second Degree (class B felony). Those charged in today’s indictment include:

Efrain Acevedo, Troy, NY – 33 years old
Raul Baez, Schenectady, NY – 36 years old
Erick Baez, Schenectady, NY – 35 years old
Jose Cintron, Troy, NY – 37 years old
Elvis Colon, Troy, NY – 45 years old
Javier Colon, Philadelphia, PA – 51 years old
Mercedes Danahy, Troy, NY – 38 years old
James Foley, Troy, NY – 43 years old
Jack Frazier, Troy, NY – 37 years old
Jose Galarza, Troy, NY – 49 years old
Yamillet Galarza, Troy, NY – 35 years old
Vladimir Guzman Grullon, Bronx, NY – 31 years old
David Harden, Troy, NY – 62 years old
Mark House, Troy, NY – 55 years old
Karim Little, Troy, NY – 32 years old
Jordan McCullen, Troy, NY – 32 years old
Jahtiek Milisci, Troy, NY – 25 years old
Beau Moreau, Schenectady, NY – 36 years old
Michael Nelson, Troy, NY – 37 years old
Tracy Taylor, Troy, NY – 52 years old
Denzel Timot, Troy, NY – 24 years old
Alexander Torres, Troy, NY – 36 years old
Israel Vasquez, Troy, NY – 37 years old
Abner Velasquez, Holyoke, MA – 42 years old
David Venson, Troy, NY – 56 years old

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

Attorney General James would like to thank Rensselaer District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly and the Schenectady County Drug Task Force for their assistance in the investigation.    

The investigation was directed by New York State Police Investigator Matthew Guiry under the supervision of Senior Investigators Robert Martin and Vonnie Vardine and OCTF Detective Michael Connelly, with the assistance of the U.S. Army National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, under the supervision of OCTF Supervising Detective Brian Fleming, OCTF Assistant Chief Investigator John Monte, and OCTF Deputy Chief Investigator Andrew Boss. The Attorney General’s Investigations Division is led by Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes. 

The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Andrew McElwee, with the assistance of legal support analysts Stephanie Donovan and AnnaLisa MacPhee, under the supervision of OCTF Upstate Deputy Bureau 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 Jose Maldonado. Both the Investigations Division and the Criminal Justice Division are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.