Two major drug trafficking rings in western New York have been taken down. New York State Police and local police forces have arrested and indicted 40 people that allegedly operated in the two rings throughout Erie, Genesee and Niagara Counties.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was in town Tuesday to announce the arrests that came from two investigations. The investigations are called Operation Lockport and Operation TGIF. Schneiderman says the investigations included undercover operations, GPS tracking devices, and hundreds of hours of covert surveillance.
“It’s a well-organized gang, as you can see it was a big gang,” Schneiderman said.
In Operation Lockport, an 18-month-long operation, 25 people were charged. The investigation led police to two kilograms of cocaine and more than $60,000 in cash. Members would transport cocaine from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to the City of Niagara Falls. Investigators believe suspects would pack cocaine into the soles of heels in shoes. It was sent to Niagara Falls and then distributed in Erie County and on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.
Michelle King, 42, of Akron was one of the people arrested in that sweep. She is a nurse who authorities say would get Loritab from the doctor’s office where she worked and then sell the pills to 59-year-old Geraldine Horsefall, a grandmother of four who would allegedly re-sell the painkillers on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation.
Schneiderman said, “You know when someone brings small children along with them to make themselves a more effective drug dealer, that’s about as low as you can get.”
During Operation TGIF, police forces recovered nearly 700 grams of cocaine. The suspects allegedly arranged to have the cocaine transported to Buffalo from New York and Boston. In this case, 15 people are facing more than 80 counts. This operation involved the arrest of a cook, 32-year-old Anthony DeJames, at the TGI Fridays restaurant at Main and Chippewa Streets. The cocaine was sent to three men and resold to customers in Erie County.
“Obviously, no implications against the restaurant or any other way, but this was a chef who was abusing his position of trust in a place where a lot of people were passing through to do deals,” Schneiderman said.
In this operation, it was discovered that members of the network would attend the regular cockfights. In the cockfights, officials say spurs and razor blades were affixed on the birds’ legs. Many of the birds were killed. The crowd had to pay an admission fee and the referee was paid per fight. Matthew Dubuc of Sanborn is accused of hosting the cockfights on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation near Lewiston.
State leaders said the streets are safer after these busts. They say they will fight to make communities safer by rooting out large-scale narcotics trafficking networks.
Charged in connection with Operation Lockport are:
GERALDINE HORSEFALL, 59, of Pembroke, NY
ARYLYN HORSEFALL, 33, of Pembroke, NY
DENNIS KNUEPPEL, 48, of Amherst, NY
MICHELLE KING, 42, of Akron, NY
LORI SCHWAB, 33, of Corfu, NY
DENISE JENNER, 54, of Akron, NY
CHRISTY WHITE, 38, of Akron, NY
RENEE DYLAG, 40, of Akron, NY
DAVID MILKS, 39, of Akron, NY
GLORIA SHELL, 70, of Buffalo, NY
ROY VICTOR, 55, of Holland, NY
ANTHONY BLACKMAN, 32, of Elmira, NY
RUSSELL BLACKMAN, 28, of Elmira, NY
JERMAINE COX, 35, of Niagara Falls, NY
MARQUITTA COX, 38, of Niagara Falls, NY
ORIE DOCTOR, 41, of Tonawanda Indian reservation
WILLIAM GRAHAM, 55, of Niagara Falls, NY
KEVIN KING, 39, of Niagara Falls, NY
LAMAR JOHNSON, 34, of Lewiston, NY
STEPHANIE LOMBARDO, 54, of Lewiston, NY
VINCENTE MUNDY, 59, of Fort Lauderdale, FL
DURVAL PARKER, 37, of Saint Catherine, Jamaica
ERIC PARKER, 38, Pembroke, NY
JAMES SCHMAHL, 34, of Niagara Falls, NY
COCO SPENCER, age 30, Lockport NY
Charged in connection with Operation TGIF are:
JONATHAN PEREZ a/k/a Luis Sanchez-Cruz, 37, of New York, NY
FRANKLIN LARA, a/k/a Jose Rivera Colon, a/k/a Benny Rodriguez, 35, of the Dominican Republic
LUCIANO PITRE, 36, of Buffalo, NY
CARMEN PITRE, 45, of Buffalo, NY
OSCAR RUIZ, 49, of Cheektowaga, NY
CARMEN SALCEDO, 37, of Lawrence, MA
ANGEL CENTENO, 47, of Buffalo, NY
JUAN FERMIN, 48, of Buffalo, NY
ANABEL SANCHEZ, 42 of Buffalo, NY
JUAN SANTIAGO, 69, of Buffalo, NY
CHRISTIAN CUADRADO, a/k/a Christian Rodriguez, 32, of Buffalo, NY
MATTHEW DUBUC, 42, of Sanborn, NY
ANTHONY DEJAMES, 32, of Buffalo, NY
PAUL SETLOCK, 37, of Buffalo, NY
JASON WOOLLEY, 45, of Boston, NY