News Release
June 2 , 2006
Contact: DEA Public Affairs

DEA Dismantles 150 Mile Drug Pipeline from New York City to Albany, NY

Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Field Division, John P. Gilbride announced the arrests of ten (10) individuals as a result of a three month long investigation.

During the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 31 and Thursday, June 1st; Special Agents from the Albany Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force, Albany Police Detectives from the Community Response Unit and Officers of the IMPACT Interdiction Team, members of the CNET / NY State Police, members of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and the Albany County District Attorney’s office concluded an investigation that culminated in ten arrests for illegal drug sales, illegal drug possession, as well as illegal weapons possession.

Significant amounts of cocaine and heroin were seized, as well as two handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle. Several thousands of dollars in US currency and several vehicles also were seized. The investigation showed that this group of drug dealers were making two to three trips per week to New York City, that resulted in the transport and sale of about ½ to 1 Kilograms of both crack and cocaine, per week, with a street value of between $15,000-30,000. This 150 mile pipeline went from Queens to Albany and it is now significantly interrupted.

"These arrests represent the commitment of local and federal law enforcement to reclaim their neighborhoods from drugs and violence," said John Gilbride, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division, Drug Enforcement Administration. "These criminals demonstrate the violent extent that drug organizations will go to in order to make a profit from the poison they distribute into our communities."

The 10 arrestees involved a group that centered on a source of illegal drugs from Queens, NY, who was identified as Richard Varick. Varick used a local group from Albany to distribute the drugs. Albert Cooks, leader of the Albany group, used various young women to hold and transport the narcotics and weapons in the City of Albany. The investigation is on-going and more arrests are expected.

The following were arrested:

Richard Varick, 33 years old, 115-25 148th St., Queens, NY; Criminal Sale Controlled Substance (7.5 ounces cocaine); Conspiracy, 2nd Deg. Criminal Poss. Of a Weapon (possessed two handguns in NYC).

• Albert D. Cooks, 32, 229 Colonie St., 2nd. Fl., Albany, Criminal Possession Controlled substances; Criminal Possession of a Weapon (Assault Rifle); Conspiracy
• Stephen C McGrail, 36, 94 Ontario St., Albany, Crim. Poss. Narcotic Drugs,w/Intent to Sell; Crim. Poss. Contrl. Substances (Cocaine; 3.2 grams); Conspiracy 4th. Deg.
• Jiemeka F. Freeman, 24, 229 Clinton Ave., Albany; Crim. Possession Cont. Substance; Criminal Possession of a Weapon (AR 15 Rifle).
• Alicia A. Erby, 27, 352 First St., Albany, Crim. Poss. Cont. Substance (3.2 grams, Cocaine); Conspiracy 4th. Deg.
• Heather L. Colburn, 25, 397 Hudson Ave., Albany; Crim. Poss. Of a Weapon, 3rd. deg. (AR 15 Rifle Assault weapon), Conspiracy, 4th. Deg.
• Christine A. Hayward, 19, 94 Ontario St., Albany; Conspiracy, 2nd. Deg.
• Venieta Amina Cupidon, 30, 229 Colonie St., Albany, Conspiracy, 2nd. Deg.
• Crystal L. Taylor, 21, 41 Benjamin St., Albany; Conspiracy, 2nd. Deg.

Alice F. O’Keefe, 19, 242 Quail St., Albany; Conspiracy 4th. Deg.

Chief James Tuffey, Albany Police Department, stated “This investigation represents an important partnership between various law enforcement agencies in our continuing efforts to proactively target mid and high level drug dealers in the City of Albany. The Albany Police Department is committed to improving the quality of life and safety for the citizens of Albany”.

“Albany County District Attorney, P. David Soares stated “The District Attorney’s Office will continue to support these high-level strategic, investigations. Breaking up these larger cells and removing more guns and drugs off the streets; we can then restore confidence to our neighborhoods. These individuals will be prosecuted vigorously. We congratulate the fine work and continued partnership with the Albany Police Department and all of our partners in law enforcement.”

NY State Police Captain Arthur J. Boyko stated “As in several of the most recent larger narcotic investigations, this particular one is a perfect example of a concerted team effort among the various law enforcement contingencies on both the local, State and Federal level. All departments conducted a joint investigation involving cocaine trafficking in the Albany and surrounding areas. With these recent arrests the Police were able to once again bring a "career criminal" to the criminal justice system and hold him accountable for his conduct.”

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