Operation Gravy Train: A.G. Schneiderman Announces Takedown Of Violent Gang Responsible For Trafficking Drugs To St. Lawrence County

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 2, 2017

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OPERATION GRAVY TRAIN: A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES TAKEDOWN OF VIOLENT GANG RESPONSIBLE FOR TRAFFICKING DRUGS TO ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY

106 Individuals Indicted And Charged With 169 Crimes – Marking The Third Major Bust In AG’s S.U.R.G.E. Initiative To Crack Down On Violent Heroin, Opioid, and Narcotics Traffickers In Suburban And Upstate NY

Investigation, Led By AG’s Organized Crime Task Force, Brought Together Nearly Two Dozen Law Enforcement Agencies – Leading To Recovery Of Thousands Of Bags Of Heroin, Fentanyl, And Cocaine, Plus Guns And More

CANTON –Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of 106 individuals charged with conspiring in two major drug distribution networks that transported heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine to St. Lawrence County.

Today’s takedown marks the third major drug bust in Attorney General Schneiderman’s Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic (S.U.R.G.E.) Initiative, a new 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. Last month, Attorney General Schneiderman announced Operation Bricktown and Operation Un-Wise, the first two major busts in the initiative.

“The growing opioid epidemic is destroying lives around New York. By partnering with local law enforcement, our S.U.R.G.E. Initiative is tackling the crisis head on – making clear to those who deal death and violence in our communities that it will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “I'm grateful to the nearly two dozen law enforcement agencies that partnered with us on Operation Gravy Train to take 106 more violent drug dealers off our streets.”

The multi-agency investigation was code-named “Operation Gravy Train,” and brought together the resources of nearly two dozen state, local, and federal enforcement agencies led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), including the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force, the Canton Police Department, the Potsdam Police Department, the Massena Police Department, the Gouverneur Police Department, the Ogdensburg City Police Department, the Rochester Police Department, the Syracuse Police Department, the New York State Police, the New York City Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Franklin County Drug Task Force, the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Border Enforcement Security Task Force, Metro-Jefferson County Drug Task Force, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice. The law enforcement agencies conducted an 11-month investigation that included covert surveillance and hundreds of hours of wiretaps, aimed at rooting out heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine dealers operating in the St. Lawrence County area.

As alleged in the two indictments unsealed in St. Lawrence County Court today, this investigation led to the recovery of approximately 2,600 bags of heroin (with a street value estimated at approximately $39,000), approximately 3,005 bags of fentanyl (with a street value estimated at approximately $45,075), and more than 700 bags of cocaine (with a street value estimated at more than $10,500), which had all been pre-packaged for easy distribution by the trafficking ring.  Additionally, investigators seized bulk quantities of narcotics, including more than a kilo of cocaine, more than a quarter-pound of fentanyl, and more than three ounces of heroin, as well as approximately $89,000 in cash, three handguns, two stun guns, a dagger, a shotgun, and a bullet proof vest stolen from a Tompkins County Sheriff’s Deputy.

The first indictment is comprised of 50 defendants who are accused of selling narcotics in Ogdensburg. As alleged in the indictment, Travail Madison, Gary Brown, Corey Lee, Rondelle Moore, and Porsha Houston arranged for Tiffany Richway to receive cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin in Gouverneur in St. Lawrence County and in the Town of Pamelia in neighboring Jefferson County for distribution to numerous re-sellers and end users. On December 29, 2016, authorities seized 172 bags of cocaine and 1,699 bags containing both heroin and fentanyl from the Royal Inn in Pamelia where Richway was, at the time, alleged to have been storing and selling narcotics. On January 7, 2017, authorities again seized a substantial amount of narcotics, 171 bags of cocaine, and 395 bags containing both heroin and fentanyl from Richway as Richway vacated a home from which she was then allegedly selling narcotics in Gouverneur in St. Lawrence County.  Brown and Madison were charged as Operating as Major Traffickers for their roles in this narcotics distribution network.

The second indictment is comprised of 57 defendants, one of whom also appears on the first indictment as well.  This indictment alleges that Curtis Felder, Jason Purnell, and numerous other individuals from Jersey City, New Jersey trafficked substantial amounts of narcotics to northern New York to be sold in St. Lawrence County. Additionally, as the indictment details, Jose Marte of the Bronx, Deandre Gatson of Buffalo, and Shaka Williams of Plymouth, are also alleged to have supplied numerous St. Lawrence County residents with narcotics meant to be sold locally. Felder and Purnell were charged as Operating as Major Traffickers for their roles in this narcotics distribution network.

New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “These arrests are the result of great police work by multiple law enforcement agencies. These individuals were trafficking drugs across the North Country, with connections across Central New York and the New York City area. These arrests should send a message that this type of criminal activity will not be tolerated in our communities. We will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to track down offenders, shut down their operations, and make our streets safer for those we serve.”

St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wills said, “Today’s arrests are the culmination of nine months of an intense investigation into the trafficking of Heroin and other illicit drugs within St. Lawrence County. The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with our local, state and federal partners as well as law enforcement agencies across NYS and NJ have worked endless hours to combat the sale and distribution of illegal drugs within this county. This investigation would not have been possible without the cooperation, assistance and expertise of the New York State Attorney General’s Office. We could not be prouder of the men and women in our LE agencies, and with the support of the County Legislature and that of other community leaders, we are able to continue our public safety endeavors.”

The two separate indictments charge 106 individuals with crimes 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. 

Those charged in today’s two indictments include:

Sarah Ashley – Auburn, NY

Robert Baker – Ogdensburg, NY

Rasue Barnett – Syracuse, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Olivia Bender – Ogdensburg, NY

Amy Bennett – Pitcairn, NY

Nathaniel Bielski – Syracuse, NY

Jamie Bonanno – Watertown, NY

Gary Brown – Rochester, NY

Francis Burdick – Ogdensburg, NY

Brandon Bylow – Ogdensburg, NY

Raul Byrd – Gouverneur, NY

Barry Crayford – Heuvelton, NY

Sonia Cruz – Syracuse, NY

Lisa Davis – Syracuse, NY

Derek Denny – DeKalb Junction, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Kayla Fletcher – Tupper Lake, NY

Jamie Gaines – Ogdensburg, NY

Jordan Gaines – Ogdensburg, NY

Porsha Houston -  Rochester, NY

Gregory James – Heuvelton, NY

Donald Jennings – New York, NY

Jennifer Kerr – Ogdensburg, NY

Robert Kerwin – Gouverneur, NY

Richard Laplant – Oswegatchie, NY

Jennifer Larue – Ogdensburg, NY

Kimberly Larue – Ogdensburg, NY

Corey Lee – Philadelphia, NY

Kevin Lockenwitz – Albany, NY

Gary Lee Loffler – Ogdensburg, NY

Travail Madison – Ogdensburg, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Jose Marcano – Syracuse, NY

Jonathan Martinez – Syracuse, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Rondelle Moore – Rochester, NY

Jenelle Parker – Ogdensburg, NY

Mariano Patterson – Massena, NY

Shane Perkins – Ogdensburg, NY

Alyssia Petrie – Norwood, NY

Tiffany Richway – Harrisville, NY

Jennifer Rosenbarker – Gouverneur, NY

Lee Sattler – Ogdensburg, NY

Joshua Seidel – Ogdensburg, NY

Richard Sides – Gouverneur, NY

Darren St. Germain – Ogdensburg, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Taylor Teriele – Ogdensburg, NY

Justin Whitmarsh – Edwards, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Mark Willard – Ogdensburg, NY

James Yerdon – Ogdensburg, NY

Kenneth Yerdon – Ogdensburg, NY

Jessie Young – Heuvelton, NY

Sean Young – Ogdensburg, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Saidah Abdulkarim – Jersey City, NJ

Heather Amarel – Massena, NY

Charles Ayotte – Massena, NY

Adam Baxter – Norfolk, NY

Chase Baxter – Norfolk, NY

Michael Berry – Waddington, NY

Anthony Bushey – Winthrop, NY

Kimberly Clifford – Massena, NY

Katie Davison – Massena, NY

Nicole Dishaw – Massena, NY

Patience Dissottle – Norwood, NY

Kamao Douglas – Norwood, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Tashawn Dutton a/k/a Tashawn Payton – Jersey City, NJ

Curtis Felder – Newark, NJ

Ahijah Foster – Jersey City, NJ

Dandre Gatson – Buffalo, NY

Mark Green – Potsdam, NY

Samantha Griffin – Madrid, NY

Sharon Gushlaw – Massena, NY

Stacey Haley – Massena, NY

Jason Henriquez – Endicott NY

Sierra Herbick – Ogdensburg, NY

Jared Johnston – Madrid, NY

Rizwan Khan – Massena, NY

Christopher Kocienski – Massena, NY

Trista Ladue – Massena, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Jenna Lamar – Canton, NY

Caisey Lamotte – Massena, NY

Bobbie Jo Larock – Massena, NY

Christopher Larose – Potsdam, NY

Donna Larose – Massena, NY

Michael Laury – Orange, NY

Jose Marte – Bronx, NY

Melissa McCarthy – Norfolk, NY

Matthew McGrath – Massena, NY

Terry McGregor – Massena, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Tyler McGregor – Massena, NY

Douglas Monroe – Massena, NY

Leah Musante – Massena, NY

Daniel Nye – Cortland, NY

Travis O’Neill – Massena, NY

Allen Oshier – Massena, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

Mariano Patterson – Massena, NY

Dale Pryce – Massena NY

Jason Purnell – Woodbridge, NJ

Paul Radel – Massena, NY

Christopher Reed – Jersey City, NJ

Stephanie Sellers – Jersey City, NJ

Yasif Sims – Jersey City, NJ

Ciera Smith – Massena, NY

Francine Sokolowski – Massena, NY

Bobbiejo Stowell – Massena, NY

Sabrina Torrez – Jersey City, NJ

Lydell Washington – Bronx, NY

Casey Jo West – Cortland, NY

Quareese West – Jersey City, NJ

Shaka Williams – Plymouth, NY (currently incarcerated - not in connection with this case)

The investigation was conducted by St. Lawrence County Detective Arthur Shattuck and the OAG OCTF Special Investigator Paul Pendergast, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Thomas M. Wolf and Deputy Chief Eugene Black.

The case is being prosecuted by OAG OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Senior Investigative Counsel James J. Mindell, under the supervision of OCTF Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff, Upstate OCTF Deputy Chief Maria Moran, and Chief Deputy Attorney General Jason Brown.

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

“This investigation was an excellent collaborative effort, the results of which should have a positive impact on all of our communities,” said Chief Andrew D. Kennedy, Ogdensburg Police Department. “We have all seen the devastating effects that these drugs have. These arrests are the result of the hard work and long hours put in by dedicated officers from the agencies who participated in the investigation. Our officers did an outstanding job and we thank them for their tireless efforts and dedication. I commend all of the participating agencies for agreeing to pool the resources necessary to facilitate this type of investigation and I would like to thank our community leaders and the citizens in each of our communities for their continued help and support.”

“The Potsdam Police Department is grateful for the ability to partner with all involved agencies to help keep our communities safe and to combat drug abuse and crime problems,” said Chief Mark Murray, Potsdam Police Department. This operation is a great example of pooled resources and shared law enforcement services coming together to address a real problem in our area.  The ability to contribute towards such a major initiative like Operation Gravy Train shows we all stand together in this fight, and also reminds us of the real threats that exist on our streets and neighborhoods.”

“Operation Gravy Train highlights the law enforcement collaboration imperative to the fight against the heroin and illicit drug trade that has infested the North Country,” said Chief Laurina Greenhill, Gouverneur Police Department. “Drug dealers are moving to rural areas such as the Village of Gouverneur where there are fewer law enforcement officers and perceive they are less likely to be caught.  And because dealers don’t recognize jurisdictional lines the effects of their invasion spreads and ravages the surrounding communities necessitating multi agency efforts.  This operation signifies to dealers that they will be caught and to the public that law enforcement is working hard to pool resources to stop them.  Every agency, from the local to federal level, who participated in this investigation, should be lauded for their efforts.”  

“I would like to thank Attorney General, St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells and the St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force for their extensive efforts with Operation Gravy Train,” said Chief James Santimaw, Canton Police Department. “The war on illicit drugs is one that we cannot afford to lose.  Focusing on drug activity is critical to helping to cut down on violent crime and other drug related problems that we all must deal with. This detail proves that the drug trade is in our communities in St. Lawrence County and that it is not a problem that can be ignored. I commend the leadership of the Attorney General and the Sheriff and the long hours of the Task Force members for all of their hard work and many hours sacrificed to make this operation as successful as it has obviously become.”

“Our agents have an excellent working relationship with our law enforcement partners,” said USBP Massena Station Patrol Agent in Charge Wade Laughman.

“These arrests are a fine example of the shared effort and successful collaboration between the U.S. Border Patrol and our law enforcement partners in helping keep our communities safe,” said USBP Ogdensburg Station Patrol Agent in Charge Timothy Morgan.

“The arrests announced today effectively close off a major drug trafficking pipeline allegedly responsible for distributing significant quantities of cocaine, heroin and their derivatives into communities here in northern New York and elsewhere,” said Acting ICE Director Thomas D. Homan. “As a native of this region, I’m particularly pleased with this effort and its contributions to improving the quality of life for citizens in northern New York. I am also grateful for the cooperation of state and local law enforcement agencies that partnered in this operation. Operations like this underscore ICE’s continued commitment to upholding public safety.”

View the indictments

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