BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — One by one they marched through the courthouse doors, arms shackled at the waist, clad in orange. Twenty out of 25 western New York drug dealers — some of the high-level pushers who officials said are responsible for the region’s opioid epidemic.
State police, along with members of the Erie and Niagara county sheriff’s office and the Buffalo Police Department, executed three search warrants Thusday morning in the city of Buffalo.
The take: More than $1.2 million dollars in cocaine and fentanyl-laced heroin, and $60,000 — to go along with the 20 drug dealers who were arraigned on various felony charges of possession and criminal sale of controlled substances and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. One of them was denied bail.
This drug ring came from two sources, according to authorities: Heroin driven to western New York from Philadelphia and New York City, and cocaine sent via U.S. Mail — in phony bean cans — from Puerto Rico.
“Drug dealers will think of any way they can to move their product, whether it’s stashing it in auto parts, using decoy material, or sending stuff through the mail. It’s really common practice,” said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico.
D’Amico said the bust was a major collaboration.
“There’s no boundaries or restrictions or egos involved here,” he said. “We all just want to accomplish the same thing, to arrest these people, get rid of them and get this stuff off the streets.”
Most of the drugs came into the city of Lockport in Niagara County, where they were processed and sent out throughout the region, D’Amico said. ”
“I believe this was a major roundup today,” said Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda. “You’re going to see a lot less drugs in the city for a short time until they do find alternative sources. But right now, I do believe this will have an immediate impact.”
Most of the suspects are from the Buffalo area, some are from Niagara County.
Authorities say their investigation isn’t finished. While they were able to get some of the high level pushers off the streets of western New York, they’ll continue to work with investigators downstate and beyond to infiltrate higher up the food chain.