They're calling it a major takedown of a western New York narcotics pipeline. “You're going to see a lot less drugs in the city,” said Buffalo Police Commissioner Dan Derenda.
Twenty-five suspects were charged with distributing heroin from New York City and Philadelphia and cocaine from Puerto Rico. “There's no hierarchy of a gang,” explained N.Y.S. Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico. “There's no gang affiliations. But, the people on the top supply three individuals who are the major distributors and the remaining suspects are our sellers.”
Authorities said the group was able to move the drugs through various disguises. “The drugs were secreted in phony bean cans, birthday presents and other wrappings,” D’Amico said. Eventually, they were sold in Buffalo and in Lockport, Niagara County.
In total, authorities seized 1.5 kilograms of heroin, 6 kilograms of cocaine and $60,000 in cash. The drugs have a street value of $1.2 million.
Police said the heroin was also laced with the deadly substance called fentanyl. “Although we're not connecting any overdose deaths to these drugs or this crew at this time, imagine if these drugs had made it out to our streets and what the potential deadly impact could've been on our community.”
Police wouldn’t say what led to this investigation but did say surveillance, undercover buys, and other techniques were used to develop a solid case. Most of the suspects live in the Buffalo area. Authorities said one suspect was selling in Lockport. All but five were arrested Thursday morning. “At a time when we have at least 10 people a week dying from overdoses we believe this will have an impact on cutting down on the amount of drugs being sold in this area,” Derenda said.
All 25 were indicted by a grand jury. Charges range from criminal possession of a controlled substance to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. If convicted, each face 25 years in prison.