Local Menu

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Guilty Plea Of Ringleader In Upstate New York Cocaine Trafficking Ring

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES GUILTY PLEA OF RINGLEADER IN UPSTATE NEW YORK COCAINE TRAFFICKING RING

Cedric James Will Face Up To 12 Years In Prison For Selling Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars Worth Of Cocaine

16 Defendants Have Now Pleaded Guilty As Part Of Operation Wrecking Ball, Which Uncovered A Drug Trafficking Ring That Operated In Albany, Schenectady, And Rensselaer Counties

Pleas Are Latest In AG’s SURGE Initiative To Crackdown On Suburban & Upstate Traffickers – Part Of Multi-Faceted Approach To Tackling The Opioid Epidemic

SCHENECTADY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the guilty plea of Cedric James of Brooklyn, NY, the ringleader of a drug trafficking ring that distributed cocaine throughout Albany, Schenectady, and Rensselaer counties. James will face up to 12 years in prison at sentencing. The drug takedown was part of the Attorney General’s “Operation Wrecking Ball,” which charged 19 individuals with 226 crimes; to date, 16 defendants have entered guilty pleas. Today, James pled guilty to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree.

The investigation – dubbed “Operation Wrecking Ball” due to the fact that several conspirators referred to powder cocaine as the “Miley Cyrus” over wiretaps – included hundreds of hours of physical surveillance and wiretapping, as well as the execution of numerous search warrants in Brooklyn and Schenectady in February 2017. The search warrants resulted in the seizure of more than three pounds of bulk cocaine with an approximate street value of $147,000, 35 firearms, over $63,000 in cash, and large quantities of drug paraphernalia, including scales, packaging, and cutting agents.

“Too many New York families are struggling with the scourge of addiction that’s fueled by those trafficking narcotics into our communities,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will continue to use every tool available to us—from cracking down on drug traffickers to removing barriers to addiction treatment to reducing doctor shopping—to protect our communities as we take on this epidemic.”

The following defendants have now pleaded guilty as part of Operation Wrecking Ball:

  • Joseph Berghela, of Albany, pled guilty on September 11, 2017, to Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 3 years in state prison.
  • Derrick Carrington, of Albany, pled guilty on September 19, 2017, to Attempted Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 2 ½ years in state prison.
  • Ladawn Harris, of Albany, pled guilty on September 11, 2017, to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 7 years in state prison.
  • Clifford Jackson, of Schenectady, pled guilty on July 21, 2017, to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 7 years in state prison.
  • Lewis Labshere, of Schenectady, pled guilty on August 30, 2017, to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree. He will be sentenced to 7 years in state prison.
  • I’Quan Mayo, of Albany, pled guilty on October 12, 2017, to Attempted Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will participate in a drug treatment program.
  • Deanna McCargo, of Albany, pled guilty on September 27, 2017, to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 7 years in state prison.
  • Octavius Mills, of Schenectady, pled guilty on September 8, 2017, to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 5 years in state prison.
  • Christopher Mozone, of Albany, pled guilty on August 23, 2017, to Attempted Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fifth Degree. He will be sentenced to 2 years in state prison.
  • Neiki Ricks, of Albany, pled guilty on August 14, 2017, to Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 6 years in state prison.
  • Summer Saglimbeni, of Schenectady, pled guilty on September 8, 2017, to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 3 years in state prison.
  • Traevon Shannon, of Albany, pled guilty on October 10, 2017, to Attempted Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree. He will be sentenced to 5 years’ probation supervision.
  • Meghan Wilkinson, of Schenectady, pled guilty on August 17, 2017 to Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. She will participate in a drug treatment program.
  • Frances Wright, of Schenectady, guilty on September 19, 2017, to Attempted Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 3 years in state prison.
  • Laquan Wright, of Schenectady, pled guilty on August 23, 2017, to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree. He will be sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

Charges against another three defendants remain pending. 

The Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) has now taken down 25 large drug trafficking gangs, made more than 580 felony narcotics arrests, and seized more than $1.5 million and more than 2,000 pounds of illegal drugs since 2011. In the past several months alone, Attorney General Schneiderman’s new Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic (“S.U.R.G.E.”) Initiative—a crackdown on New York’s growing heroin, opioid, and narcotics trafficking networks—has resulted in removing 260 alleged traffickers and dealers off New York’s streets, through Operation BricktownOperation Un-WiseOperation Gravy TrainOperation Bloodsport, and Operation Pipeline.

Since 2010, Attorney General Schneiderman has launched a multi-pronged strategy to tackle New York's constantly evolving heroin and opioid epidemic, including settlements with health insurers to remove barriers to treatment and enforce Mental Health Parity Laws; the I-STOP system, which has successfully reduced “doctor shopping” by 90%; the Community Overdose Prevention program, equipping law enforcement with naloxone; a multistate investigation into the opioid crisis; and more.

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

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.

Groups audience: