News Release
May 19, 2009
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Public Information Officer
Phone: 212-337-2906

West Side Heroin and Cocaine Trafficking Rings Arrested

Press Conference

MAY 19 -- BUFFALO, N.Y. – Thirty-seven indicted defendants were arrested on May 13, 2009following the conclusion of an ongoing wiretap investigation coordinated through the obtaining of wiretap orders by Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III. Based upon information obtained through the wiretap orders, and the execution of search warrants at 5 locations in the City of Buffalo on May 5, 2009, Marcelino Fernandez a/k/a Chulin, age 24, of Buffalo, Christian Castillo, age 22, of Buffalo, Carlos Martinez, age 23, of Buffalo, Susana Rivera, age 23, of Buffalo, Genesis Toribio, age 43, of New York City, and Arthur Clark, age 62, of Buffalo were arrested on charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of weapons filed by the Office of District Attorney Sedita in Buffalo City Court which prosecutions are being handled by Assistant District Attorneys Mary Beth DePasquale and Glenn Pincus.

Money SeizedAnnounced by Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride and Acting U.S. Attorney Kathleen M. Mehltretter was that a federal grand jury in Buffalo returned a 22 count indictment charging 16 members of a heroin trafficking organization headed by Marcelino Fernandez including Christian Castillo, Carlos Martinez, Susana Rivera, Genesis Toribio, Arthur Clark and Javier Castillo, age 36, of Buffalo, Alex Fernandez, age 23, of Buffalo, Larry Scisson, age 55, of Buffalo, Darnell Coffman, age 31, of Buffalo, Ondray Donaldson, age 32, of Buffalo, Francisco Santiago, age 25, of Buffalo, Christopher Hoffman, age 21, of Tonawanda, Gamaliel Linares, age 25, of Tonawanda, Luis Brito-Reinoso, age 48, of New York City, and Justin Johns, age 30, of Buffalo. Each defendant is charged with various violations of federal law, including conspiracy to distribute heroin which charge carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life. Further, Marcelino Fernandez and Susana Rivera are charged with possessing machine guns in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes which charge carries a mandatory consecutive and minimum term of imprisonment of 30 years and a maximum of life imprisonment.

Weapons seizedAlso charged by a federal grand jury in Buffalo in a 9 count indictment are 13 members of a cocaine trafficking organization headed by Elliott Fuentes a/k/a The Godfather, age 36, of Buffalo, including Jason Alemany, age 26, of Buffalo, Hector Manuel Ramos Rivera, age 25, of Puerto Rico, Cynthia Cassanova-Valentine, age 29, of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rodriguez a/k/a Congo, age 29, of Buffalo, Dinorach Feliciano, age 37, of Buffalo, Milagros Fuentes, age 38, of Buffalo, Wahabbi Halton, age 37, of Buffalo, Damen Koonce, age 24, of Buffalo, Juan Dejesus, age 31, of Buffalo, Johnny Ortega, age 28, of Buffalo, Nelson Rivera, age 23, of Buffalo and Aladino Rodriguez, age 42, of Buffalo. Each of these defendants were also charged with various violations of federal law, including conspiracy to distribute cocaine which charge carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life. Further, Elliott Fuentes is charged with Engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise which charge carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.

Additionally, charged by way of separate indictments by a federal grand jury with unlawfully distributing quantities of cocaine and heroin were 8 individuals from whom purchases of controlled substances were made during the course of this investigation. These individuals include Edgar Guzman, age 28, of Buffalo, Ricardo Mitchell a/k/a Ricardo Lebron, age 24, of Buffalo, Jeffrey Munro, age 30, of Buffalo, Joseph Sciolino, age 20, of Buffalo, Victor Ortiz-Delgado, age 28, of Buffalo, Andes Cruz-Medina, age 22, of Buffalo, Rafael Omar Martinez, age 21, of Buffalo and Michael Nicotra, age 34, of Buffalo. The drug distribution charges carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Additionally, Michael Nicotra is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm which charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

Arrests in Buffalo were coordinated with the arrests of Hector Manual Ramos Rivera and Cynthia Casanova-Valentine in Puerto Rico. Additionally, as part of the round-up, approximately 11 search warrants were executed at various locations in the Buffalo area and 1 search warrant executed in Puerto Rico.

The indictment is a result of a cooperative investigation of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies led by the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson, and Special Agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Charles Tomaszewski, and included the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Christopher Cummings and the Cheektowaga Police Department under the direction of Chief Christine Ziemba. Those agencies, as well as the following federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participated in this morning’s execution of search and arrest warrants - the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Border Patrol, Amherst Police Department, Niagara County Sheriff’s Department, Erie County Sheriff’s Department, Lancaster Police Department, Hamburg Police Department, Lackawanna Police Department, Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department, Niagara County Drug Task Force, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police Department, Town of Tonawanda Police Department, East Aurora Police Department Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department, Niagara Falls Police Department, the West Seneca Police Department and the Lewiston Police Department.

The evidence was presented to the Federal Grand Jury by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William J. Gillmeister and Joel L. Violanti, who will handle the trials of these cases.

This investigation was also conducted under the auspices of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.