May 13, 2016
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
Major Takedown Of Western New York Narcotics Pipeline Investigation Leads To Indictment Of 25 Individuals In Erie County Court; Seizures Of Over Half A Million Dollars In Heroin And Cocaine
In the alleged scheme, defendants traveled to New York to obtain heroin and obtained cocaine from Puerto Rico through the U.S. Mail
"Gang violence and drug trafficking are both public health and public safety threats," said DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt. "Wherever the Ramos organization allegedly sold heroin and cocaine, they left behind fear, intimidation and addiction in their wake. Law enforcement pooled resources to shut this operation down and identify all sources of supply in order to reclaim our neighborhoods from drug addiction and drug related violence."
"Today my office, with our partners in law enforcement, shut down a major drug pipeline into Western New York that was a top supplier of fentanyl-laced heroin and other drugs," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "This dangerous and potent variant of heroin is killing people across our state and I am pleased that we have cut off this supply and charged 25 individuals for their alleged roles."
"The alleged crimes suggest that the suspects had absolutely no regard for the damage these narcotics were inflicting on our communities," said New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico. "We will continue to work with our partners to target those trafficking drugs in our neighborhoods, shut their illegal operations down and put them behind bars."
"I want to commend all of the agencies involved in this intensive investigation including the Attorney General's Office and State police," said Commissioner Daniel Derenda, Buffalo Police Department. "Removing two dozen drug dealers from our streets will put a severe dent in the illegal drug trade in Buffalo and Western New York."
As part of a multi-agency investigation code-named Operation Rolling Thunder, state, federal and local law enforcement agents led by Attorney General Schneiderman's Organized Crime Task (OCTF), NYSP's CNET and the DEA conducted a 9 month-long investigation that included undercover operations, hundreds of hours of covert surveillance, and wiretaps. The investigation led to the seizure of more than 1 ½ kilograms of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, and 6 kilograms of cocaine, all for distribution in Buffalo and Lockport, New York.
According to the indictment, members of the narcotics distribution organization would travel to New York City to obtain heroin and drive immediately back to Buffalo. Heroin was found in packages in the columns of steering wheels, in engine compartments, and under seats of various vehicles used by the targets. Jose Maldonado, Jonathan Ramos-Ramos, and their workers, sold heroin daily from a location on Pennsylvania Avenue in Buffalo. Hector Santiago sold heroin laced with fentanyl in Niagara County, which he obtained from the same source of supply in the Washington Heights area of New York City. Wiretaps caught the defendants discussing their drug transactions, in the Spanish language, in a cryptic and coded manner in the hope of avoiding detection by law enforcement. Over one and a half kilograms of fentanyl-laced heroin were seized in the course of the investigation, which have a value of over $600,000, when sold on the street in bundles.
Jonathan Aleman-Gonzalez had more than two kilograms of cocaine mailed to Omar Vellon Aponte on Buffalo's East Side, as well as to Gonzalez' home. In one instance, the narcotics were contained in two cans of pinto beans, which were opened and resealed. An associate named Raul Lopez Sanchez drove from New Jersey, bringing a half kilogram of cocaine to Buffalo wrapped as a birthday gift, for delivery to Gonzalez, when he was stopped in the parking lot of the Days Inn near the Buffalo Niagara Airport and the package was seized. The street value of the six kilos of cocaine seized during the course of this investigation is $1.2 million.
The 69-count indictment unsealed in Erie County Court today charges 25 people with crimes including Criminal Sale and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First and Second Degrees and Conspiracy in the Second (class A and B felonies), punishable by up to 25 years in prison, and various other counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.
Charged in the Erie County indictment are:
Jonathan Aleman-Gonzalez, a/k/a "Humedo";
Bonifacio Barreto, a/k/a "Cano";
Joemar Cruz, a/k/a "Yomo";
Jorge Davila, a/k/a "Loiza";
Josue Diaz-Rodriguez, a/k/a "Kasko";
Justo Kelvin Estevez Rodriguez;
Jonathan Lopez, a/k/a "Tato";
Raul Lopez Sanchez;
Jose Maldonado, a/k/a "Naris";
Hiram Morales, a/k/a "Buster";
Jose Nunez Perez, a/k/a "Joe";
William Ortega, a/k/a "Wilo";
Juan Gabriel Ortiz, a/k/a "Gabby";
Carlos Pizarro-Rodriguez, a/k/a "Bolo";
Jonathan Ramos-Ramos, a/k/a "Pico";
Hector L. Santiago, a/k/a "Randy";
Jesus Javier Santiago, a/k/a "Javi";
Omar Vellon Aponte, a/k/a "Chambo";
Charles Vogel, a/k/a "Chuck"; and
Brian D. Zimmerman
The investigation was conducted by the DEA, New York State Police, Buffalo Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Homeland Security, Niagara Sheriff’s Office and the Niagara County Drug Task Force.
The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General Patricia I. Carrington. Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff runs the Organized Crime Task Force and Kelly Donovan is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Division.
The charges against the defendants are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.