BUFFALO – ( RELEASE) In the largest heroin bust in Buffalo history, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrests and unsealing of a 51-count indictment against 15 individuals accused of taking part in a drug distribution network where heroin trafficking originated in the Bronx and was routinely funneled to Buffalo for distribution on city streets.
As part of a multi-agency investigation code-named “Operation Horse Trail,” state and local law enforcement agents led by the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the New York State Police conducted an 11-month-long investigation that included undercover operations, hundreds of hours of covert surveillance, and wiretaps.
"Drug traffickers destroy our communities and wreak havoc on families across the state," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "This investigation has shut down a major pipeline of illegal drugs coming into Western New York. I want to thank our partners in law enforcement - the State Police, Erie County Sheriff's Department, the City of Buffalo Police Department and the US Border Patrol - for working with us to get these deadly narcotics off the streets so they no longer infect our neighborhoods.”
The investigation led to the seizure of more than seven kilograms of heroin with an estimated street value of $3.5 million, and more than $45,000 in cash. The accused members of the narcotics distribution organization would transport the heroin to Buffalo from the Bronx and "stash" it in an apartment in Buffalo's Delaware District where it was prepared for distribution.
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, "The interagency cooperation of the various law enforcement partners demonstrated in this investigation has resulted in the elimination of a major pipeline of heroin to the Western New York region."
Wiretap evidence included in the unsealed indictment demonstrates that the defendants discussed their drug transactions in a cryptic and coded manner to avoid detection by law enforcement.
The 51-count indictment unsealed in Erie County Supreme Court today charges 15 individuals with crimes including Operating as a Major Trafficker, and various counts of Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (class A and B felonies), and conspiracy to commit those crimes. The Operating as a Major Trafficker statute (§220.77(1) of the Penal Law of the State of New York), authored by Attorney General Schneiderman, went into effect last year as part of changes to the Rockefeller-era drug laws and is the only felony narcotics charge in the state that carries a possible life sentence.
The indictment is the culmination of a major investigation led by Attorney General Schneiderman’s OCTF and is part of his efforts to combat large-scale narcotics trafficking and related crimes across the state.
Several other agencies assisted in the investigation including: the Community Narcotics Enforcement Teams (C-NET) and Special Investigations Units (SIU) of the New York State Police, the Erie County Sheriff's Department, the City of Buffalo Police Department and the US Border Patrol.
Those charged in the Erie County indictment are:
EURY RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a Omar Javier Marquez Baergas, a/k/a Omar Marquez, a/k/a Omar Baergas, a/k/a Jesus Polanco, a/k/a Angel Navarro; age 32 of New York, NY
LUIS M. SIME; age 43, Bronx , NY
FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ; age 45, Buffalo, NY
EDWIN GOMEZ, a/k/a Edward Gomez, a/k/a “Baba”; age 32, Bronx, NY
JOSE GARCIA, a/k/a “Markito”; age 49, Bronx, NY
MILADYS GONZALEZ; age 42, Buffalo, NY
CARLOS JIMENEZ; age 39, Buffalo, NY
JONATHAN RIVERA; age 23, Buffalo, NY
NATHANIEL JIMENEZ; age 21, of Puerto Rico
DARIO RIVERA, a/k/a “Indio”; age 31, of Buffalo, NY
JUAN ORTIZ, A/K/A “Bebe”; age 31, address unknown
RICHARD ALEQUIN, a/k/a “Rico”, a/k/a “Indio”; age 51, of Buffalo, NY
YADHIRA RAMOS; age 34 of Teaneck, New Jersey
FREIZY DEJESUS ALMANZAR CASTILLO, a/k/a Freizy Almanzar, a/k/a Jose Vasquez; age 26, of Buffalo, NY
ANTHONY FERNANDEZ, age 20, of Buffalo, NY
The charges against the defendants are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorneys General Patricia I. Carrington and Robert J. Lee, under the supervision of OCTF Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff.
The investigation was conducted by New York State Police Supervising Investigator Charles Torres, supervised by Majors Matthew S Renneman and Wayne S. Olson, and OCTF Special Investigator Ever Quinones, under the supervision of Chief Thomas Mullen.
Eyewitness News will continue to follow this story.