TOWN OF HANOVER, N.Y. (WIVB) — Six people remained in jail Thursday after the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office raided a house on Alleghany Road in the town of Hanover.
Although as of this week, each is facing felony-level drug charges, Sheriff Joseph Gerace is hoping to charge them with far more serious crimes.
Before SWAT teams broke down the door at 12211 Alleghany Rd., and after two people died of drug overdoses, Gerace issued a warning to his community: Watch out for a deadly batch of heroin.
On Wednesday, investigators believe they may have uncovered a connection.
“A few days prior to that case, we had made a public announcement that there was several overdoses, two of them resulting in a fatality, that could be traced back to a specific type of packaging material,” Gerace said. “And the arrests yesterday in the town of Hanover did turn up some of that packaging material.”
It’s not yet confirmed whether the two people who died over the weekend used what was allegedly sold inside the home. But it’s being pursued
“We’ll be looking at this case very closely to see if we can connect the overdoses with these drug dealers,” Gerace said.
That’s a difficult task.
And although it’s a frequent request from the public, who often plead for stiffer sentences for dealers, the evidence doesn’t always fall in line, Gerace said.
“t’s not that simple. If it was, we’d be doing it a lot,” he said. “You have to have reasonable doubt, and it’s difficult to have in these cases.
“It’s super frustrating. There’s no better way to put it, it’s maddening,” he added. “These drug dealers, they’re killers in my opinion. You’re doing to deal drugs, you’re going to prison. Goodbye.”
Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson reiterated the difficulty in prosecuting drug dealers on overdose deaths. Doing so would require strong witnesses, and additional evidence beyond sometimes inconclusive chemical tests of drugs.
He also said heroin’s deadly grip on Chautauqua County is evident. In addition to large amounts of drugs recovered during several raids, law enforcement has recovered more than $200,000 in suspected drug proceeds.
Gerace said he expects additional charges to be filed against at least some of the defendants.