Attorney General James Announces Takedown of Two Narcotics Rings Responsible for Trafficking Fentanyl Throughout Central New York and the North Country
31 Individuals Indicted and Charged with 192 Crimes Relating to Drug Trafficking and Weapons Offenses
Investigation Recovered Over 150,000 Packages of Fentanyl
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile today announced the indictment of 31 defendants charged with 192 crimes related to drug trafficking and weapons offenses in connection with two major drug trafficking networks that were distributing fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine in Onondaga, Oswego, Cortland, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence counties. As alleged in two indictments, the year-long investigation led to the seizure of more than 150,000 envelopes containing over $300,000 worth of fentanyl or a mixture of fentanyl and heroin. The investigation also recovered nearly a pound of methamphetamine, one-quarter kilogram of cocaine, more than $16,500 connected to narcotics distribution activity, three illegal firearms, and two vehicles used to transport and distribute narcotics.
“Opioids like fentanyl have torn apart communities across our state, and organized drug trafficking rings have fueled their spread,” said Attorney General James. “This takedown is part of my office’s ongoing efforts to roll back the deadly and destructive effects of the opioid crisis. We will continue to pursue and prosecute all those who peddle illicit drugs and I thank our partners in law enforcement for their critical support and collaboration in this investigation.”
“I would like to commend and thank not only our drug detectives, but also Attorney General James’ office and every one of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners who made this lengthy and complex investigation a success,” said Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile. “Thirty-one subjects thought they could peddle their poison of fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine on the streets of Syracuse and across five counties with impunity. They were wrong. Thanks to motivated professionals and strong partnerships, they were wrong.”
“Because of the critical partnerships and collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners, a dangerous drug trafficking operation has been dismantled,” said New York State Police Acting Superintendent Dominick L. Chiumento. “Each arrest and each seizure saves lives and decreases the additional crimes that oftentimes coincide with these illegal drug operations. The arrests of these criminals reinforce our commitment that we will continue our aggressive posture in stopping the flow of these dangerous drugs into our neighborhoods. I thank the Attorney General’s Office and our law enforcement partners at all levels for their relentless efforts to keep illegal drugs off our streets.”
“Syracuse Police officers are working every day to combat illegal drug trafficking. I am deeply grateful for their efforts to protect our community from addiction and crime,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “This crackdown is another example of the importance of effective collaboration at all levels of law enforcement to take down trafficking networks that are tearing communities apart. I thank the Syracuse Police Department Special Investigations Division, Attorney General James, and the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force for their dedicated efforts to put an end to this crisis.”
Suitcases containing “blocks” of fentanyl recovered by the investigation
The first indictment outlines the activity of the “Castro Group” — which was led by Bayron Castro, a/k/a “Hov” — and charges 23 people with 150 counts for their roles in selling controlled substances to customers residing in Onondaga, Oswego, Cortland, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence counties. The investigation revealed that Castro, with assistance from Miguel Cruz, Jose Cosme, Johnathan Delgado, Xavier Jackson, and others procured significant quantities of fentanyl from suppliers in Bronx County for distribution throughout Central New York and the North Country. Castro is charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, which carries a mandatory life sentence in state prison.
The investigation recovered over 100,000 glassine envelopes containing fentanyl and heroin that Castro was storing and distributing from inside suitcases in a Syracuse apartment utilized by Jose Cosme. Castro and his associates supplied narcotics to Kwamea Jenkins and Shawn Gifford, alleged members of the Bricktown gang which operates within a multi-block area of the south side of Syracuse. During this investigation, several additional Bricktown members, including Lamell Davis, Keenan Scott, Devine Mobley, Jamar Sheppard, Jaidyn Freeman, James Odom, and Tevon Webb, were distributing fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine throughout Central New York and the North Country.
The second indictment outlines the activity of the “Pettiford Group” — which was led by Edward Pettiford, a/k/a “Buster” — and charges eight individuals with 42 counts for their roles in selling narcotics and methamphetamine and related events in Onondaga and Oswego counties. The investigation of this group revealed that alleged Bricktown member Malik Evans was distributing narcotics in Onondaga and Oswego Counties, and that Evans was supplied by Henry Townsend, a/k/a “Henrock,” and Brycedon James, a/k/a “Doodak,” both of whom were supplied by Pettiford.
During the course of the investigation, Townsend was involved in a shooting on West Newell Street in which he shot and injured an innocent civilian. In addition to drug trafficking charges, Townsend is being charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, Assault in the Second Degree, and related offenses in conjunction with this shooting. Additionally, Emanuel Jenkins, a/k/a “Lean”, who was present at Townsend’s residence during the shooting, is charged with Tampering with Physical Evidence for retrieving and hiding shell casings discharged in the shooting.
Recovered firearms and fentanyl
Recovered fentanyl and other narcotics
Today’s takedown was the result of a joint investigation between the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the Syracuse Police Department’s Special Investigations Division. The multi-agency investigation, code-named “Operation Blockbuster” due to defendants’ distribution of fentanyl in large quantities they referred to as “blocks”, brought together the resources of more than a dozen state, local, and federal enforcement agencies, including the Syracuse Police Department, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, Oswego County Sheriff’s Office, City of Oswego Police Department, Oswego County Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Agency Central New York Task Force, City of Fulton Police Department, New York State Police, New York State Intelligence Center, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Cortland County Sheriff’s Office, the Metro-Jefferson Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the Onondaga County Probation Department. The investigation included covert physical surveillance, thousands of hours of electronic surveillance, and multiple search warrants aimed at rooting out heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine dealers operating in Central New York and the North Country.
The takedown marks another major drug bust in the Attorney Generals 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, fentanyl, opioid, and narcotics trafficking networks. Since launching in 2017, SURGE has taken 909 alleged traffickers off the streets.
The 31 individuals who were charged with various crimes in relation to their involvement in the narcotics trafficking operation, 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, as well as the charges related to the shooting on West Newell Street include:
Deion Bradley, 26 years old, Syracuse, NY
Bayron Castro, a/k/a “Hov”, 41 years old, Syracuse, NY
Jose Cosme, 54 years old, Syracuse, NY
Jean Carlos Cruz, 34 years old, Syracuse, NY
Miguel Cruz, a/k/a “G”, 36 years old, Liverpool, NY
Lamell Davis, a/k/a “Melly,” or “O’Melly,” a/k/a “Felix”, 29 years old, Syracuse, NY
Johnathan Delgado, a/k/a “Green Eyes”, 37 years old, Syracuse, NY
Malik Evans, a/k/a “Leek”, 35 years old, Syracuse, NY
Chad Firenze, 34 years old, Granby, NY
Terrah Frederick, 35 years old, Adams Center, NY
Jaidyn Freeman, a/k/a “Jaido”, 21 years old, Syracuse, NY
Shawn Gifford, a/k/a “Nani”, 36 years old, Syracuse, NY
Michael Hudgins, 36 years old, Syracuse, NY
Xavier Jackson, 29 years old, Syracuse, NY
Brycedon James, a/k/a “Doodak”, 24 years old, Syracuse, NY
Emmanuel Jenkins, a/k/a “Lean”, 32 years old, Syracuse, NY
Kwamea Jenkins, 23 years old, Syracuse, NY
Luis Miguel Joaquin, 35 years old, Bronx, NY
David Kalet, 36 years old, Port Byron, NY
James Kelley, 35 years old, Liverpool, NY
Christopher Lanzafame, 33 years old, Baldwinsville, NY
Docciana Mack, 34 years old, Syracuse, NY
Devine Mobley, 21 years old, Syracuse, NY
James Odom, 31 years old, Syracuse, NY
Edward Pettiford, a/k/a “Buster”, 30 years old, Syracuse, NY
Keenan Scott, a/k/a “Kasey”, 26 years old, Syracuse, NY
Jamar Sheppard, a/k/a “Ski”, 27 years old, Syracuse, NY
Carlos Torres, 30 years old, Syracuse, NY
Henry Townsend, a/k/a “Rock,” a/k/a “Henrock”, 28 years old, Syracuse, NY
Jeffrey Walts, 40 years old, Central Square, NY
Tevon Webb, a/k/a “Tay”, 28 years old, Syracuse, NY
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
The investigation was led by Syracuse Police Detective Travis Holmes and OAG OCTF Supervising Detective Tim MacConaghy, with the assistance of the U.S. Army National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, under the supervision of OCTF Assistant Chief Investigator John Monte and Deputy Chief Investigator Andrew Boss. The Attorney General’s Investigations Division is led by Chief Oliver Pu-Folkes.
The case is being prosecuted by OAG OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Geoffrey Ciereck, with the assistance of Legal Support Analyst Sean McCauley and OCTF Confidential Clerk Theresa Rowe, 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 Jose Maldonado. Both the Investigations Division and the Criminal Justice Division are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.