Final Defendant Pleads Guilty in Family Drug Conspiracy Which Sought to Control Two City Streets
JULY 10 (BUFFALO, N.Y.) –U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Leo Mellerson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine or both. Mellerson was one of nine defendants originally charged by federal prosecutors as part of a family run drug operation that sought to control narcotics activities on two City of Buffalo Streets. All defendants have now been convicted and are in jail awaiting sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Marangola, who handled the case for the Government, stated that between 2000 and February 2012, the defendant was one of nine defendants who participated in a drug trafficking organization the members of which were all related to one another. The leader of the organization was Theresa Anderson, a grandmother who utilized her children and grandchildren, as well as their spouses and boyfriends, for the group’s narcotics trafficking activities.
The organization sought to control all drug sales occurring on Swinburne and Deshler Streets, Buffalo. In order to achieve a monopoly, Anderson threatened and intimidated rival narcotics traffickers, and purchased multiple houses in the area which were then used for the selling and storing of the illegal narcotics.
In February, 2012, Theresa Anderson, along with Mellerson, Dion Anderson, Melvin Calhoun, Toshia Hodge, Anquensha Hodge, Steven Butler, Wymiko Anderson, and Tajia Anderson were all arrested in a joint operation conducted by federal, State, and City police agencies. Multiple properties were also seized, along with more than $52,000 in U.S. currency. All defendants were convicted via guilty pleas occurring over the past several weeks.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell stated, "The Anderson drug trafficking organization was a family run business responsible for spreading fear, intimidation and crack cocaine throughout the Buffalo area. Due to state, local and federal law enforcement partnerships, Theresa Anderson, the matriarch of the drug distribution organization, and her coconspirators have all pled guilty marking the end of their threat to public safety."
"Today's conviction means more than the end of the Theresa Anderson drug trafficking organization,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "To the residents and businesses living and operating on the East Side of Buffalo, today’s development represents a chance to reclaim their neighborhood, restores their rights to live in peace and safety, and constitutes yet another success story in our continuing battle against crime in the City.”
U.S. Attorney Hochul concluded, “This case was somewhat unusual in that the criminal organization was controlled by a woman and grandmother who clearly knew better than to engage in activities which hurt so many. Thanks to both the convictions and the seizures of her properties, Anderson and her convicted family members will no longer have any effect upon our remaining community of good neighbors.”
As a result of her conviction, and in addition to facing a substantial term of imprisonment, Anderson will forfeit to the Government a total of 10 properties including houses on Deshler St., Empire St., Hutchinson Ave., and Swinburne St. As it has done in several recent instances, the United States Attorney's Office will consider providing these properties to local not-for-profit organizations and community groups if such groups qualify under federal regulation. Any organization interested in potentially acquiring a forfeited property should contact the U.S. Attorney's Office at 716-843-5700.
The convictions are the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Division, the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda, and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Michael Cerretto.Mellerson will be sentenced on October 24, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. before Judge Arcara.