A.G. Schneiderman Announces 10 Year State Prison Sentence For A Leader Of Violent Capital Region Drug Ring

Investigation Dubbed ‘Operation Trojan Horse’ Broke Up Troy-Based ‘Young Gunnerz’ Gang, Leads To Sentencing Of Defendant Joshua Lewis

ALBANY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the sentencing of a leader of a Capital Region drug ring formerly operated by a street gang called the Young Gunnerz. The defendant, Joshua Lewis, a/k/a “Shellz,” was a leader and one of the primary narcotics suppliers of the violent Troy-based street gang, which sold a high volume of cocaine, heroin, and illegal prescription medications throughout the Capital Region and beyond. Lewis was sentenced by The Honorable Debra J. Young to 10 years in state prison in Rensselaer County Court.

“When drug rings poison our streets and bring violence to our communities, my office and our partners in state and local law enforcement will use every tool at our disposal to hold them accountable,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The scourge of addiction that has swept across our country must be addressed head-on with treatment and recovery for victims and clear consequences for those who profit off of others’ despair.” 

“This guilty plea sends a clear message to those dealing drugs in New York: if you profit from the sale or distribution of illegal drugs in our communities, you will be caught, you will go to prison,” said New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach, II. “The individuals who were a part of this violent drug ring did not care about the damage they were doing to our neighborhoods. We will continue to partner with law enforcement to bring these criminals to justice, and keep our communities safe.”

Operation Trojan Horse, a joint law enforcement effort between the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the New York State Police, and other local law enforcement agencies, resulted in the seizure of over $114,000 in cocaine and heroin, and several illegal handguns. Lewis pleaded guilty to every Count of a 16-Count Indictment that was pending against him, including 11 Class “A” felonies, on May 2, 2016. His plea represented the final plea out of 21 defendants that were indicted in the case.

The investigation, led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the New York State Police, began in December 2014 and culminated in Indictments being returned in August 2015. The sentencing of Lewis today follows previous top count convictions of co-conspirators Daquan Murray, a/k/a “Benji Got the Juice,” who was sentenced to 10 years in prison on January 7, 2016; and Asjmere Powell, a/k/a “Prime,” who was sentenced to 7 years in prison on November 30, 2015. The case also resulted in the conviction of former City of Watervliet Police Officer Nicholas Pontore for felony possession of cocaine at a time when he was on duty, in uniform and in a marked Watervliet patrol car. Pontore was sentenced to 2 years in state prison on January 11, 2016.

Other defendants in the case have been sentenced to the following:

Other Young Gunnerz Gang Members Not Named Above

Derick Dunbar:  3½ years state prison;

Andrew Hernandez: 2 years state prison;

Zyjee Lind: 5 years state prison;

James Royer: 3½ years state prison;

Javon Smith: 4 years state prison;

Thaddeus Steed: 5 years state prison.

Other Defendants

Darnell Marable: 4½ years state prison

Over the past four years, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Organized Crime Task Force has taken down 29 large drug trafficking gangs, made more than 700 felony narcotics arrests, and seized more than $1.5 million and more than 2,500 pounds of illegal drugs.

The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Michael Sharpe. Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff runs the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force. The Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice is Kelly Donovan.

Groups audience: