"Operation Blackjack" Dismantles Drug
JUL 28 -- (SYRACUSE, NY) New York Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent-In-Charge John P. Gilbride and Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced today the indictment of 15 individuals involved in an alleged narcotics distribution ring where cocaine was transported from the Bronx and sold throughout the Central New York region.
The case involved the seizure of 12 pounds of cocaine worth $500,000, two revolvers, two shotguns, $26,000 in cash, drug paraphernalia, ammunition, and two vehicles.
DEA Special Agent-In-Charge John P. Gilbride said, “DEA and our state and local law enforcement partners are committed to identifying and arresting those responsible for distributing illegal narcotics. The Lockhart duo led this cocaine and crack cocaine distributing organization which led to their arrests and the dismantling of those who worked for them. Syracuse and our surrounding counties in Central New York can be assured that due to these arrests there are less drugs and guns on the streets, making our community safer from the perils of drug abuse.”
Today’s indictment is the result of a multi-agency investigation led by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) known as “Operation Blackjack.” The allegations included two main players of the drug ring who bought cocaine from suppliers in the Bronx and transported the drugs via car to Central New York to sell to mid-level dealers for distribution in Onondaga, Oswego, Oneida, and Madison counties.
One of the key players in the alleged distribution network, Antwan Lockhart, of N. Jay Street, Rome, was arrested December 23, 2007 when his car was stopped on Route 81 in Tully as he was transporting cocaine from the Bronx. At the scene, 4.5 pounds of cocaine were seized. An additional 2 pounds were taken from Lockhart’s stash house on Midler Ave, Syracuse, and .67 ounces of cocaine were found in another vehicle registered in Lockhart’s name. Lockhart pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, for which he received a nine year prison sentence, three year post-release supervision, and forfeited two cars.
The other alleged key leader in the drug distribution network is Edward N. Lockhart, 30, of Caughdenoy Road, Hastings (last known address). As part of the investigation, law enforcement seized 5 ounces of cocaine and a shotgun from Edward Lockhart. He was charged with 20 counts criminal possession and sale of a controlled substance, including six counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree (class A-II felony), which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and lifetime probation for each sales count.
Of the 15 indicted, 14 were charged with conspiracy in the second degree, a class B felony that carries the maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. Additionally, Marton Davis and Kamisha Rashad were each charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, and face the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Luis Abreu was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and Sirena Sharpe was charged with criminal sale of controlled substance in the third degree. Both face the maximum penalty of 9 years in prison. Osbie McClain and Titus Stewart were charged with varying levels of narcotics and weapons related offenses and both face maximum sentences of 12 years in prison.
Onondaga District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick said, “These arrests send a clear message that those of us who live and work in Central New York will not tolerate drug dealers and narcotics trafficking in our community. We are very appreciative of Attorney General Cuomo’s commitment to helping us rid Syracuse and Onondaga County of those who infuse poison and violence into our community. His office has worked diligently and combined forces with my office and our local enforcement to deliver a crippling blow to the illegal drug market. That kind of cooperative effort and his Upstate Guns, Gangs and Drugs Initiative has made Attorney General Cuomo one of the most effective and respected leaders in our state. I believe the success of Operation ‘Blackjack’ is evident of that.”
Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin E. Walsh said, “Today’s multi-agency sweep has been a resounding success, thanks to a coordinated effort headed up by Attorney General Cuomo’s OCTF. The Sheriff’s office welcomes this collaborative effort, and it is initiatives like the Attorney General’s Upstate Guns, Gangs and Drugs Initiative that will go a long way toward making our County and region safer. The narcotics trade throughout New York has run rampant for too long, and it’s a welcome sign that Attorney General Cuomo continues to make curbing it a priority.”
City of Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll said, “Thanks to the hard work of various law enforcement agencies under the leadership of Attorney General Cuomo’s Organized Crime Task Force, another network of deadly narcotics in Central New York has been cut off. The scourge of drug trafficking from the New York City region to upstate communities continues to pose a threat to our neighborhoods and our children. However, it is a threat that we are eliminating by working together and pooling our resources.”
New York State Police Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt said, “Drug trafficking operations originating in New York City have expanded into our upstate communities. However, New York law enforcement agencies on every level, led by Attorney General Cuomo’s Upstate Guns, Gangs and Drugs Initiative, have impacted these operations. Through an organized effort, we worked together to bring down these highly organized drug rings. The state police are committed to working with the Attorney General and other law enforcement colleagues to improve the quality of life in our communities.”
“The impact of illegal drugs and guns on our communities is extensive and widespread,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “It is the goal of my Upstate Guns, Gangs, and Drugs Initiative to intercept the flow of drugs before they infect our neighborhoods. The recent takedown of several drug rings throughout Central and Upstate New York in past months proves that our formula of partnering with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies is a successful model.”
Those indicted and their alleged roles include:
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.